Jyu Oh Sei

July 18, 2020

Next anime to watch… Next anime to watch… Next anime to watch… Oh here it is! Jyu Oh Sei! Heh. For some reason I picked this retro anime because you know, damn Corona virus seem to be making current season animes playing musical chairs. This week, it’s going to be this anime’s turn to halt production! Oh yeah. Next week, it might be that anime! Will there be any anime left standing by the time the normal season ends? At least for the animes that I picked to watch. So yeah, what an ironic and twisted way for me to choose this series since it is somewhat about survival. A pair of twins abandoned on vicious planet filled with carnivorous plants and harsh environments as well as the few human clans populating the planet. Survival of the strongest, definitely. We’re going to pull through this calamity for sure!

Episode 1
Thor and Rai Klein live in a space colony named Juno. They harbour dreams to become scientists like their parents and visit for themselves this beautiful planet called Earth. Really? That still exists in the distant future? As they return to their quarters, they are shocked to see their parents killed. Soon a sleeping gas knocks them out but Thor manages to see the perpetrators who are no other than the army who are supposed to protect them. The twins are put on a pod and sent down to a planet known as Chimera. They get out and navigate their way through the dense jungle. Thor knows they’ve been abandoned as their possessions only contain a beam knife and a smelly sap. Locals surround them but their leader, Zagi wants to take care of them. He tells them about Chimera. It is basically a prison planet. Nobody knows about it because the higher ups kept its existence a secret. Also, plants here are mostly carnivorous and rule the planet. The only way to survive is to revert back to being a beast. Hence only the King of Beasts can survive on this planet AKA Jyu Oh Sei. He further elaborates how there are 4 tribes known as Rings that rule by territory. Divided by skin colour (oh dear, racism?), they are Sun, Blanc, Night and Ochre. Zagi and his fellows don’t belong to any. They are abandoned children and hence their nickname Wild Children. Also on Chimera, men and women live separately. There is only 1 and only 1 way to leave Chimera. To stand above all 4 Ring leaders and become Jyu Oh. You also do that by climbing some tower called Dagger Pagoda in the middle of the continent and win the ability to move freely between Hecate and Chimera. As Rai is clumsy, he gets bullied. Thor tries to protect him but also gets bullied. Zagi warns them that survival is tough here and since the night is harsher it is only logical that they weed out the weak ones. That means Rai will be targeted. The twins leave the place. Rai continues to complain while Thor contemplates on Zagi’s advice to leave Rai behind or he too will die. And then Rai continues to complain he’d rather die than go through this sh*t! OMG. You said it. Thor going to kill him! So Rai has a change of mind? Yeah… But seeing those same eyes, Thor has a change of heart. They are then surrounded by men from the Ochre Ring. They claim the twins have broken some rules. Thor pretends to be friendly and when close enough, uses his beam knife to kill them. I guess the plants want in on the action too as it swallows up everyone including Rai. Thor is about to meet the same fate but some chic saves him.

Episode 2
Flashback shows the twins’ father telling them about Earth and how the Balkan System of planets that men made were modelled after it. Yes, we are all Earthlings! Thor wakes up with Tiz by her side. Although she is from the Sun Ring, they are currently staying at Ochre Ring’s base. It seems Thor would’ve been further beaten up if Tiz didn’t do so. Thor remembers about Rai but Tiz tells him to forget him. He already died. You saw him being eaten by the plants, right? Thor then meets Third of Ochre Ring and he was the one who carried him back. He reveals that the only reason why Ochre is letting them stay here is because Tiz chose Thor to be her husband! As women are few on Chimera, they have the right to choose their husbands. But Thor isn’t impressed because he will choose his own destiny! Then they go watch a Try. Basically, it is match to challenge the Ring’s top leader and if you win, you take over his place and can do anything. So the reigning champion is, uhm, Top. He easily defeats his challenger. Top then has Thor see him. Because he is Tiz’s husband, he allow them to stay for now but warns him to get stronger like him because the strong only survives. Yeah, Thor went down just after that slap, he better get stronger! As Tiz still insists stubborn Thor be her husband, here comes Rika from Sun Ring. She is here to bring Tiz back as Chen is mad. Tiz doesn’t want to and wants to remain here with Thor. This has Thor remember some cheesy confession scene of Rai and a girl. Actually it was Thor who pretended to be Rai because Rai was too chicken. WTF, right? Tiz tries to stop Thor from heading to Dagger Pagoda alone. This guy still doesn’t want to be her husband so much so he’d rather walk into the swamp? Oh man, suddenly the Musa plants start to germinate and grow into huge beanstalks?! Thor saves Tiz since he doesn’t want it to end like Rai’s death. Luckily they grab on to Third’s flying pod. Tiz is confused that Thor refused her but still risked his life to safe her. Is this how people on the colony behaves. Thor gives an excuse he did this for himself and not where he came from. Tiz has decided. She gives her necklace (a symbol of authority) to Rika to be returned to Chen. She is giving up her position in Sun Ring to be with Thor. She’ll be under him forever! Wow. He just upgraded from husband to boss. Next step, God? Oh wait. It’s Jyu Oh first.

Episode 3
Thanks to the Musa plants, it is able to draw water from its roots located deep in the ground. Thor is sad that he wanted Rai to see this. Tiz reminds him it isn’t his fault to begin with. However Thor hated Rai but at the same time he loved him too. He really needs to find out the truth of his parents’ murder so Tiz thinks Colin might be the right guy since he knows a lot of things. He lives alone near the Sun Ring. Tiz agrees to follow Thor to Colin’s place but unfortunately they stumble into Chen and her subordinates. Chen gives Tiz a warning to come back to them or they die where they stand. You thought Tiz who was so reluctant to go back now agrees to do so? Well, she doesn’t want to bring trouble to Thor. So as she obediently returns to Chen, Thor spots an opportunity. Swiftly using Tiz’s sword to cut a nearby plant as a diversion to trap Chen, Thor then takes Tiz’s hand and run. You regretting this crazy husband of yours? As they rest, they talk about Thor forming his own Ring. No skin colour! It’ll be colourless. Wow. So inclusive and diversity. Yeah, took too long talking that Chen and co are back. It’s amazing she didn’t kill them on sight. Still giving Tiz a chance, huh? Thor then challenges Chen. Because he cannot take her place, he will fight for Tiz’s freedom. Thor is agile but he is weak against Chen. Then he notices something about their sword clash. He focuses his beam knife on her sword until it breaks. Safe to say that Thor wins and Chen must stick by her promise. Just then, an underground Verasona plant gobbles up a subordinate. So don’t move? You mean it didn’t attack during the fight? Chen lures it out so she could destroy its bulb but it goes berserk. Tor riding it like a wild horse? Lucky kid even manages to destroy its bulb. Too easy. All the ladies impressed with Thor’s victory. They are picked up by Third to return to Ochre Ring. Thor talks to Third about becoming Jyu Oh. Something about there is no Jyu Oh on Chimera and if there was, it was probably orders from Hecate. But Thor becoming Jyu Oh is possible as anyone putting their name forward is a possible candidate. So why didn’t Third become one? Hate responsibilities.

Episode 4
It seems Top likes Chen but the latter refuses him and would rather nominate Third for the mating month. Later as Thor and Tiz talk about their new Ring, Third is interested and also wants to join. He thinks he can handle jobs in both Rings. And to think he said he hated responsibilities… Ah well, just as long as it’s interesting. Tiz’s first order for Third is to bring them to Colin. But before that, Third talks to Chen who wants to know why he refused her. He claims he is infertile so mating with him would amount to nothing. Yeah, but that doesn’t stop them from making it out right now! The gang are at Colin’s cave. Upon hearing who Thor is and what happened to his family, Colin believes Odin (current leader on Juno) could be the culprit. Colin reveals there was a faction opposing Odin as well as plans for his assassination and Thor’s father was believed to be part of that. Shocking because Thor knows his father is Odin’s loyal supporter. Colin was tasked to eliminate those factions. He doesn’t believe his father is part of any assassination plan. Subsequently after the elimination was carried out, all those involved were abandoned on Chimera. It is possible Thor’s father might have become an obstruction to Odin so he was framed and killed off as an excuse. As Thor tries to process all this heavy info, Tiz wants him to become Jyu Oh and leave the planet to find the truth. She will support him. Just then, somebody snipes at Third. Don’t worry, he is wearing a bullet proof vest and has anticipated this. This isn’t the first time. He knows Top wants to get rid of him. As they leave, Colin talks to Tiz about Thor not having long to live. Unless you undergo some life extension surgery, those on the colony will not live further than 30 years. After returning to Ochre Ring and Tiz confronting Thor about this, they return to Colin to confirm this but he is dead by Verasona plants! These don’t grow here! Somebody must’ve killed him! I guess Thor can’t get some life extension. Back at Ochre Ring, Thor tells this to Third but he doesn’t seem to care. As they attend Top’s banquet, Top tries to show Third who’s the boss by making him do menial tasks. Third doesn’t mind. Until Thor gets pissed and claims Top isn’t the best because he tried to kill Third. A person like that shouldn’t be holding top post. In that case he can be the top. Is that a challenge? A Try? With everyone eager for this challenge, Thor realizes he has been set up by Third.

Episode 5
Thor punches Third for this setup because he feels he can’t win this Try. Third points out if he cannot win now, he will never win in the future. He believes in Thor and that he can become Jyu Oh. After everything he has seen, his survival is not because of luck. As a former air force member who was abandoned here without a trial, Third has been waiting for a person like him to become Jyu Oh and leave this planet to bring justice to Odin. He believes his father also had an intention to overthrow Odin. But clearly Thor is in no shape to beat Top. Third shows him a blind spot in the arena. Once the time is right, he must lead Top there while his guard is down and Third will lend his help. So as the battle begins, Thor runs around and dodges Top’s attacks. It’s the only way for now as he is trying to make this cocky guy mad. Top’s sword then deals a lethal strike on Thor’s shoulder. Thor losing blood and trying to maintain his consciousness as he limps towards the blind spot. When he cannot see Third anywhere, he thinks he has been betrayed. But Third fires a shot but misses Top. This is on purpose as the distraction catches Top off guard. I guess nobody heard the gunshot in this noisy arena. Thor then uses this chance to slice Top, killing him. Thor is unconscious after losing too much blood. Then his pulse stops. Oh no. Tiz trying to do CPR! If that doesn’t work, Third slaps him as well as reminding him to become Jyu Oh. Heh. Like that will wo- OMFG! IT WORKED!!! Oh thank goodness Thor’s pulse is back. Later Chen talks to Third as Ilza has challenged her to a Try. She wonders if Third will come help like he did for Thor. And if she dies, will he cry for her? Sure thing. Better win then. She hopes to nominate him for the mating season when she wins. I guess it’s not about making a baby for the future, huh? Thor wakes up after a bad dream of Rai. He is glad that Tiz and Third are around because it makes his days on Chimera bearable. But looks like the long night is here as it marks the start of the mating season. Meanwhile Zagi plans to make Ochre Ring his territory.

Episode 6
Before we forget there are other clans, we see Blanc Ring led by their Top known as Wolf massacring the Night Ring and even their Top, Jeso. OH sh*t. Whites killing blacks?! A Night Ring member manage to escape and make his way to Ochre Ring. Woah. A grown up Thor! He tells them what happened and it is evident that Blanc Ring doesn’t want to become Jyu Oh but rather exterminate other Rings. Jeso’s last words were to seek Thor’s help to stop Wolf. As explained, it has been 4 years since (since Chimera has a shorter yearly cycle, I wonder how Thor can grow up this quick) and under Thor’s leadership as Top of Ochre Ring, their clan has been living in prosperity. He has even earned the nickname as Silver Hawk. As Blanc Ring’s next target is Sun Ring, Thor wants to help them. He disagrees with Third’s view that the elimination of Sun Ring would do them any good. Who knows if the system collapses, will this effect Jyu Oh? Better safe than sorry. They head over to a small village in Sun Ring’s territory and their current Top now is Yuuki. He wants their Rings to form a pact to combat against Blanc Ring. Unfortunately not much is known about Blanc Ring as their group is small and secretive. Also there is this issue with Chen. Although she won against Ilza, an injury has a leg of hers amputated. She has never been the same again and is still depressed. He hopes Third could go talk to her but Third doesn’t think hollow words could motivate her. After all, Third has another woman he loves but she is far away. Yuuki goes try talking to Chen who still feels useless and is starting to think she wants out of the clan as she won’t bear anybody’s child except Third’s. Suddenly Wolf leads an attack on the place. Then Wolf challenges Yuuki to a boss fight, believing taking him down means the downfall of Sun Ring. Wolf’s sneaky ways means Yuuki gets injured. When Chen tries to help him, a subordinate is about to kill her but Yuuki defends her. Last words of such man is to live a happy life. Dead. The massacre stops when Thor’s side arrive. Wolf then unmasks himself to be Zagi (why am I not surprised?). While Thor is in shock and want answers, Zagi tells him to come to Dagger Pagoda in 24 hours and he’ll tell him everything. Back at the base, Thor is very conflicted especially about the survival thingy when he first came to Chimera with Rai. Third tells him that humans are the worst beast and if Zagi is human, this makes it all the better not to trust him.

Episode 7
We see Heimdall reporting to Odin about some Midgard project. While Odin views it as necessary to create a new world for the sake of humanity, Don Loki sees it as gene manipulation. Tiz accompanies Thor to see Zagi. At the Dagger Pagoda, Zagi tells Thor to give up his goal to become Jyu Oh. He begins his explanation about Hecate, another prison planet. When he was young, he snuck into it and saw something he shouldn’t. This is a reason why he got banished to Chimera. And that reason was because he saw many other Jyu Oh frozen in their pods. Hence Jyu Oh never existed in the first place and is just bait to get the beasts to kill each other. The moment you become Jyu Oh, your life ends and you’ll end up like them. Thor is in shock with this info but he still finds it hard about what Zagi plans to do because if order falls, he thinks the army will still come and intervene and believes in negotiating with Juno in exchange for info. Suddenly remnants of Night Ring try to assassinate Zagi. Thor saves him but it is Zagi’s second in command, Karin who kills them. Thor taken in by her beauty? Hmm… Tiz can sense… She ‘warns’ him that she is first in line to bear their child… They return to their base to talk further. Tiz is not happy she is separated from Thor. She learns Karin is not interested in bearing any children. Ever since Zagi became their Top, he banished all rules including the mating one. The only rule is Top’s command is absolute. Zagi plans to fight for Chimera’s independence from Juno and he needs someone with charisma. That’s you, Thor. That’s why he has been watching Thor ever since the day he arrived and he surpassed all expectations. He believes Chimera has something important that is part of Odin’s plans. Otherwise, why keep this prison planet a secret? Thor isn’t amused. Zagi can be that charismatic man himself. Karin come in to report trouble with Tiz. Then she warns Zagi not to put his trust in Thor. But Zagi doesn’t care and slaps her! Despite her pleas, he banishes her for going against him. Thor is more sympathetic, though. Even so, Karin believes these guys don’t understand. Yeah, me no get it either. Thor cannot be killed because he is loved by a goddess but Zagi will be the one who will be killed? Yeah. Don’t really get it. Karin runs away as Thor returns to Tiz and tells her his only option to join with Zagi for the independence war. She disagrees but time is running out for him. So this is where the talk about bearing his children comes in? Moment ruined when Karin is reported to have fled in the blizzard. She’ll die at this rate. Thor is such a kind guy to go find her. Wow. How lucky. He finds her but she still puts up an act. And then they fall into the chasm. Wow. This woman is surely trouble, huh?

Episode 8
Don’t worry. They’re still alive at the bottom of the chasm. He is trying to find a way out and she’s still acting up? Something about Zagi is her only reason to live. It could have been so had Thor been not around. Now that he is here, Zagi doesn’t need her anymore and is sure would choose Thor as his partner. Woah! Hold up. I didn’t know there was some BL gay sh*t going on! Jealous Karin tries to kill Thor. Since he won’t fight her, he gets injured by her attacks. Poor girl even more confused and stops trying to kill him. And what luck, Thor manages to find a way that might have them resurface. As the blizzard has stopped, Tiz goes to look for her beloved. The same with Third and the other Ochre Ring guys. They stumble into Zagi and this whatever showdown won’t amount to anything because it is more important for them to look for Thor. Meanwhile as Thor makes headway in their survival, suddenly Karin talks how beautiful a person he is?! He too?! Oh wait. Don’t tell me you want to make out right now?! Oh sh*t! They did! Must be a quick one since they manage to resurface and Karin talks about him being lucky and the legend surrounding him. Thor doesn’t think so because otherwise he wouldn’t have been abandoned on Chimera. Good timing with Tiz locating them. You can see the worries in her eyes. You’ve been together all the while? Yup. And then Thor’s shocking announcement. He wants to bring Karin into Ochre Ring. Sure, he loves Tiz. But only as a sister! Can’t blame her for feeling so heart broken. Chen talks to her and hopes she could stay with Thor because she knows Zagi is planning something suspicious. The guys continue their talk and it seems Zagi has made arrangements to meet with Juno on Hecate. Thor doesn’t agree with this but will play along as he has no choice. Then he tells Zagi that Karin is now under his wing. In that case, Thor will be Jyu Oh and Zagi will be his vice when they meet with Juno. Later Third talks to Thor about accepting Zagi’s plan. He doesn’t approve of it but Thor who has not much time left just want answers. If anything happens to him, please take care of Ochre Ring. So shoving responsibilities to Third, huh? But Third also notes that he too has not much time left. In fact, he has already run out of it.

Episode 9
Tiz is sulking. How is Thor going to handle this? She manages to open up and talk to him but she still wants to mate with him when the next season comes around. Meanwhile Karin returns to Zagi who thanks her that because she was with Thor, he didn’t even hesitate in making a decision. She thought he wanted to rule this planet but decided to become Thor’s second man. What is he planning? Seems Zagi is still set on being a ruler and Thor is his trump card. Karin is sad that he is still the same and sees others as tools. Then he rapes her?! Even if she is now under Ochre Ring, she came back to Zagi, right? She wants to kill him but starts kissing him. Damn I’m so confused!!! Zagi wants her to continue to be with Thor so she could spy and report back to him. It would be troublesome if Thor started acting on his own. Then he throws her a question: Whose child would she like to bear? Zagi or Thor? Biggest dilemma ever. So after he says go to Thor, Karin feels some remorse. She tries to go after him but then she got killed! OMG! SHE’S DEAD!!! Thor heard the commotion but too late. Karin’s dead. He becomes mad and thinks Zagi did it (since he heard her voice calling out his name). Thor confronts Zagi and they start fighting. Everyone is confused but Third tells them to watch the final battle between the last 2 Tops to become Jyu Oh. Zagi tries that sneaky move he did on Yuuki but Thor saw through it and outsmarted him. In the end, Thor strikes a fatal blow. As he questions Zagi, it then occurred to him that Zagi’s reaction indicates he didn’t kill Karin. Zagi hints he knows who killed her but his last words are not to trust that man. Third congratulates Thor as the new Jyu Oh as Dagger Pagoda lights up. He wants Thor to go there but Thor ridden with guilt feels he can’t right now. Hence Third has no choice but to have his men take care of Zagi (not actually dead yet) and preserve Karin’s body. Yeah, Thor wants to take a look at Karin’s face before he goes. I guess pictures don’t exist on Chimera. Thor along with Tiz and Third arrive at Dagger Pagoda as Juno welcomes Thor as the 38th Jyu Oh.

Episode 10
Riding up the orbital elevator, they are greeted by Loki. He is a researcher of a facility on Hecate as well as Thor’s mom, Eva. Loki takes Thor to Odin so he could asks the questions to the man himself. Meanwhile Heimdall talks to Third and congratulates him on his mission that will surely promote him a few ranks up. Thor sees Odin and wants answers. Odin finds Thor to be a beautiful person and hence the Last Child. He is the triumph of genetic perfection that will save humanity. As explained, in 50 years, humanity will become extinct in the Balkan System as predicted. In the past 100 years, they have only 1 natural childbirth and the rest via artificial insemination via artificial wombs. Hence the need to create humans to populate Balkan System. As Chimera is undeveloped, DNA samples are collected from there. Thus all the frozen Jyu Oh that Zagi saw are important live samples of those who survived the harsh environment. After extracting and crossbreeding their DNA, the offspring are sent back to Chimera. Eva is the only successful surrogate mother of an artificial embryo. Therefore Thor and Rai are actually not blood related to them. They look like their parents only because of their ability to adapt. As part of the final test, the twins were needed to be sent to Chimera but Eva refused and extreme measures had to be taken. Thor is sad and confused. He wants to end this nightmare. Since this body is created by them, he doesn’t care if they cut it up and use it however they like. Then a similar looking man enters. He is Heather Sigurd. We know him as Third. He is part of this project and infiltrated Chimera earlier to help Thor become Jyu Oh. And yes, he killed Karin as part of the mission. Poor Thor is so confused by everything, the only person he wants to kill is himself.

As promised, Third’s reward is a trip to Earth. A depressed Thor is returned to Tiz’s side. Everything he knew was lie. Tiz tries to encourage him that they have each other. And yeah, she still wants to bear his child. Sex helps, right? When Odin wants to increase Chimera’s rotation rate after ordering the immediate extraction of Thor’s DNA, this is the last straw for Loki. He cannot take it anymore playing God. This move will kill all the inhabitants on Chimera as the climate will change drastically (you mean the current environment is too harsh for the perfect survival DNA to survive?! THE IRONY!!!). So why can’t Odin just let the human population populate slowly now that they have gotten Thor’s DNA? He wants to see results while he is still alive. Hey, didn’t he tell Thor that he doesn’t mind being killed if his dream is realized? Loki pulls out a gun and shoots him! Bad shot? Just in his guts. Scientist can shoot straight… Odin has enough strength to activate the rotation plan. With the alert sounded, Thor and co rush to the control room as Third explains the significance of this rotation. So how are they going to stop it? Odin and Third won’t tell. But Loki will. Yeah, some Valkyrie system on Hecate that controls the Ball that will be released to start the rotation. Thor wants Tiz to return to Chimera and evacuate as many people into the orbital elevator. Thor, Third and the other military guys are going to do Mission Impossible and stop this premature final phase.

Episode 11
Entering Hecate, it seems Loki notices Valkyrie has locked down the staffs and evacuated the prisoners. What f*cked up system is this?! After hacking in, it is discovered all the staffs were killed by plants that have been accelerated by the system. Hence we see the carnivorous plants devour the men one by one. Thanks to Thor’s knowledge and survival skills, they manage to get by. That’s not all. They have to put up a fight with the other Jyu Oh who have awakened from their slumber. Thor kills them all and when Loki pleads not to because of their precious DNA samples, Thor ticks him off that this is not what living is about. They’re dead to begin with. At least they should kill them as humans! What a convenient time for the computer to project some hologram and tell them the truth about Earth. It doesn’t exist anymore because it was blown apart by some meteor 130 years ago! All those who went to Earth just had their memories manipulated! How convenient. Third is in shock that his dreams are in tatters. But it’s time for Thor to lecture him a taste of his own medicine how he is not the only one to have his life stolen from him. So suck it up and live out the life of your chosen path! Entering the control room, it seems Valkyrie has refused access to Loki to stop it. Wow. Such hi-tech AI. But not hi-tech enough as Third and the soldiers shoot and destroy it!!! Hah. At least it is better than my answer of just unplugging the cable!!! HAHAHA!!! While it does stop the Balls, it is also mainly the sudden growth of Musa that envelope and stop the Balls, a sign of Chimera’s will.

I guess Zagi is sulking because he can’t be the captain of his own ship. Tiz tries to tell him to get back to safety because it is her responsibility to see that all Thor’s friends are safe. And even such a moment some niggah tries to kill Zagi! Well, what do you know? Tiz protects him and takes the shot!!! Instant karma when the ground collapses on the niggah. Sad to say but it’s true, Tiz dies :’(. Thor and co manually escape but looks lie Verasona plants are hungry. Loki tries to atone by staying behind and become the Verasona’s playmate. Then it’s Third’s turn. Nearly reaching the top, he nearly falls off so Thor grabs his hand. Third doesn’t want to be a burden to him anymore. After all, everything he has done was to make him a Jyu Oh. Sadly, Third kills himself so that Thor could go on. At the top, Thor sees a vision of Tiz telling him to survive. Damn, I hope it isn’t the ghost of Tiz! The helicopter picks Thor up but he is distraught that Tiz is left behind! It’s just a ghost!!!!!!!! Back on Juno, Thor sees Odin on his deathbed. Seeing that Thor survived, Odin promises never to interfere with Chimera again as Thor’s survival is proof of mankind’s ability to survive. Yeah, also he’s going to die soon anyway. Thor notes the irony he always wanted to leave Chimera but now he wants to go back to it because he views it as hope. That’s why he won’t hate Odin anymore. Bye. Back on Chimera, with the collapse of the Ring system, no more stupid clan rules whatsoever. Also, this means no more people will be sent from the colony. Thor is fine with that. He picks up a lost girl almost being devoured by a plant. He decides to call her Tiz as it means hope.

Altered Beasts
Well… That was weird… So I’m wondering if Juno has really given up on survival. Considering that it is said that the colony still exists and that they won’t throw down any more people to the planet, is Juno checkmating themselves because you know, they’ll go extinct in a few more decades. Oh heck, Juno doesn’t feel so human to begin with since no humans are really born of a natural birth. Chimera feels more human despite being so primitive and backwater. And my guess is that those cultured people on the colony rather live out their last days with all their convenient sciences rather than going down to Chimera and be barbaric cavemen. Too harsh for the likes of cultured people. Yeah, why you cultivate perfect DNAs for then? Smell some Darwin Award coming up… I’m sure even if they all decide to abandon the colony life and live on Chimera, we’ve got Thor who is such a kind leader, right? So it’s Juno’s choice. They’ve made their bed so they have to sleep in it.

One of the problems I believe this series faces is the pacing. Everything feels so rushed. From start to finish, it’s like they were trying to cram in a lot of things. Well, it is only obvious because there are only 11 episodes and even with that limited number, how much more can you pack it in? I don’t know if the series had more episodes to flesh out the development of the characters and plot, would it be draggy? Hard to say. Right now the entire series is just focusing on Thor. His rise to the top and trying to unravel the mystery behind the burning question he had since a child and then dealing with the sh*t that comes afterwards when the truth is finally out of the bag. That’s why the ending felt like so rushed. Thor survived this sh*t. The end. Yeah, it would’ve been an irony if he didn’t because his DNA was made to survive! Ultimate fail if they killed off his character like they did to so many others!

Thus I am in a dilemma even with the series expanded the development with more episodes, I am not sure fleshing out the Ring system as well as the other tribes would do this series any justice. Because after what I have seen so far, everything are just lies and deception. So if I have invested some time in learning the tropes and the system that was all on Chimera and then suddenly to learn the truth behind it all, I too would fall in despair. So in a way with all these stuffs remaining just at the tip of the iceberg and not expanded, it doesn’t waste our time because if your survival guts would have told you, there is something that is more than meets the eye. And true enough it did. Though, I wasn’t surprised about the gene manipulation thingy because I saw it coming the moment Zagi mentioned this truth to Thor and that this whole Jyu Oh system is just one big elaborated scam.

That is why there are times and scenes that felt a little confusing and also redundant. For example, the moment Thor and Rai landed on Chimera and encountered Zagi and his Wild Children pack. So what about it? Actually, nothing comes of it! And then Zagi has been conveniently forgotten until the time skip when suddenly he becomes the head for Blanc Ring. Like, how the heck did that even happen?! As Zagi is quite an integral character to the story, it is very important to see how this dude rose to the top. But nope. Suddenly this guy. Blanc Ring’s Wolf. Yeah, I could guess who he is because you know, I recognized that voice! Not a surprise to me. And what happened to all those Wild Children? Did Zagi take them in or they just died in the wild? Speaking of the wild, they name a few weird plants and their nature and it would’ve been a lot more interesting since some of the plants like Verasona look like they have more character than the human counterparts! Serious!

Then there’s the issue of the Ring system and the likes. What we know are just are just the tip of the iceberg and as mentioned, knowing more will not do us any good considering the pacing, focus and the direction of the series wants to take us. We just need to know the minimal to know how this tribal thingy works. Top 3 command rule over the clan. Anybody can challenge the Top and if he/she wins, he/she takes over his post and becomes the new ruler. Simple. So it’s sad that the Night Clan didn’t get any much focus at all because I’m sure they’ve got some pretty cool characters. Unless the producers are racist… Now all I think about those black niggas as dumb guys who hold stupid grudges and want to kill white guys. WTF, right?! If they really want the tribes to fight for survival, they should’ve split it up to more Rings and play the ultimate survivor game. Instead, we don’t know if there is ever an official match or how Dagger Pagoda knows there is only 1 Top left to initiate a light show and if all Tops make peace, would this mean Jyu Oh will be no more? And you can just become Jyu Oh if you kill 3 other Tops. So easy. Yeah, this system feels so broken from the start.

Heck, Ochre Ring is the only Ring whom we have seen a lot, their base and their people (pretty mediocre and generic if you ask me). Not even the Sun Ring came close considering Tiz is from there and then subsequently Chen. It’s like these women became eternal guests in Ochre Ring. And what happened to Thor’s wish of making a colourless Ring? What happened to Thor Ring? I guess he grown up and didn’t go ahead with that childish dream and maintained Ochre Ring as it is. Yeah, still skin colour rules (technically) at the end of the day. White people, black people, brown people, yellow people, we’re all still humans eventually. What colour do you identify yourself today???!!! It’s easy for Thor since his survival genes can make his skin ‘adapt’ to what colour he wants! Oh, the envy of liberals! So while vicious plants might rule this planet and puny humans are no match for them, it is eventually humans who are the more dangerous species around. To alter a famous quote by Steve Irwin: Plants are easy, they just want to eat you. But humans, they try to be you friend first…

You thought this series would be a feminist delight because it is hinted that women rule but that is only for the fact that they choose their mating partner. That’s about it. Even so, it feels like many of our main characters especially Thor and Third make a mockery out of this system. You’re not supposed to refuse the woman who nominate you but they’re stronger than those woman so whatcha gonna do about that, b*tch?! You think they have the pussy to control and boss around but that doesn’t look like the case at all or even close to it. It is understandable that women only make up 20% of Chimera’s human population and also why they live separately but to see that it is men who are still calling the shots, I guess the fairer sex is still the weaker sex. Besides, I don’t see the colony for females even in the Ochre Ring. Where do they keep them? In some underground safe? No wonder we see so many unruly macho ruffians around. Not surprised if many of them are gay.

On to the characters, let me get this out of the way first. Firstly, I think there is some sort of mismatched by naming a few related characters and terms after the Norse mythology. I mean, take a look at Thor, Odin, Midgard, Loki, Heimdall, Valkyrie and heck, even Rai means thunder and who else is the thunder god in Norse mythology? But the series deals more about sci-fi, gene manipulation as well as survival so hearing such Norse names sure makes it feel weird. Even more so Thor’s main weapon of choice is a beam knife and not a hammer. A freaking small beam knife! Anyway, main character Thor gets the bulk of the focus because like I’ve said previously, the pacing and everything feel so rushed with the limited amount of episodes. And yeah, since he is the ultimate Jyu Oh, all hail the survival king! But if you look at it from another point of view, his character kinda feels cliché. You know, main character gets involved in a conspiracy that includes a double bonus of having his parents killed. Works his way to the top just to find out the truth and in the end finds out more than he bargained for and tries to put a stop to it. That’s basically his entire storyline in this series. Besides, the bugging question is that if Thor did not take that life extension surgery, how long more does he have to live? Aha. Because of his survival genes, I’m sure it can adapt and prolong his life naturally, right? Long live the survival king! Oh yeah. I can write a lot this kind of stuffs too.

The rest of the characters are okay but some of them are meh. Since this series has a habit of killing off many of its characters, I wonder why everybody else didn’t just die. Heck, a lot of characters actually died including the main and supporting ones! Tiz is one of those characters whom I never expected to die but yeah, she did. Better being dead than broken hearted? How convenient and orphan looks like her and gets named in honour of her by Thor. So technically she is alive, right? Tiz is such a tease seeing she keeps bugging Thor about having his baby but luckily this guy is more preoccupied with the truth of his parents’ murder than getting all horny. That is, until Karin came along. It’s kinda weird to have Karin as well as Chen in the mix since they’re the only main female characters in the series. While I understand Tiz’s role, sometimes I felt that Chen’s role is useless while Karin’s role is just forced. Chen is one of those few who survived at the end and I also don’t even know why. She could have just been killed off and gotten over with but for some reason she survived. It’s like her only other role is to provide some pseudo romance that will never amount to be. And then Karin was like one of those rushed plots because damn, Thor fell in love with her so fast! It’s like they’re preparing for some b*tch fight to claim Thor (can a Top have a harem?) but she got taken out so quickly. And with Karin’s feelings too all over the place (Zagi or Thor, my dear?), now you understand why men can never understand women.

Zagi being the other survivor who could have died as well so I guess this means yaoi fans can now imagine some BL ay sh*t with Thor, huh? Remember, no more rules. This guy feels like a secondary character who wants to be the main character but he can’t because the story and plot and even his character is written that way. Sad. This guy thinks he is smart and got all the cards up his sleeves but I don’t see him doing anything since Thor is the one who went up there and got sh*t done. I also saw it coming that Third is a guy that couldn’t be trusted because the camera angles show us his deceptive smile. And indeed he paid the ultimate price after realizing his dream is nothing but a sham. This is what you call karma. This is what you call live by the sword, die by the sword. Third has been vital in propping up Thor as a Jyu Oh that is filled with lies but now has to face the consequences of his own dream. I guess going to heaven looks like a better deal than living this hell hole. I believe Third also has a helper back on Chimera (Rada, was it?). Again, this guy’s role seems pretty useless other than following Third around and I can’t believe he too is one of the survivors in the end. I guess it is better than others who just showed up for a while and then get killed off like Colin or Yuuki. You guys served your purpose, now be gone!

Action bits are okay and just passable. Some of the action sequences feel dumb like for example I clearly remember a young Thor first encountering and fighting off Chen and her subordinates. Thor was so lucky that he somehow manages not to get shot by those subordinates who were holding machine guns compared to Tiz’s machete! And he was charging straight at them! Yeah, those women sure don’t know how to shoot straight! HAHAHA!!! I guess this is also why his legend says Thor is loved by a goddess. And then Thor’s beam knife was able to conveniently cut and break Chen’s sword but couldn’t against his fight against Zagi? Did this mini pseudo lightsaber lose its effectiveness? Anyway, if you’re an adrenaline and action junkie, don’t get your hopes up on it, there are some action scenes and some of them get bloody but there are more drama parts than this. After all, with only 4 Rings and not many Tries to boot, how much fight can you get out of it?

Art and animation are pretty okay. Not the best seeing this anime came out in 2006. After all, it was done by Bones, a veteran anime studio who did lots of our favourite top tier animes such as Boku No Hero Academia, Fullmetal Alchemist as well as its reboot Brotherhood, Mob Psycho 100, Soul Eater, Bungou Stray Dogs, Darker Than Black, Kekkai Sensen, Ouran High School Host Club, Noragami and Rahxephon. The plants do look weird rather than terrifying and of course some of the character designs have that bishonen look especially Thor who is supposed to be the epitome of survival and everything. Hey, who says you need to be ugly to exist in a harsh environment? My only gripe is that how some scenes, the character’s nose look weird. It’s like as though they didn’t rub off the sketch lines of the nose area and hence you can see this weird line. But if they rubbed it off, they might look like Voldemort and other villain characters with no nose.

Voice acting, it’s nice to hear Nana Mizuki helming a main role as Tiz. At least with the animes I’m watching, I don’t get to hear her voice very often. Others I recognized are Romi Paku as Karin and Kazuya Nakai as Zagi. The rest of the casts are Koichi Domoto as adult Thor (his only role ever so far to date), Minami Takayama as young Thor as well as Rai and of course Eva (titular character in Detective Conan), Shun Oguri as Third (mostly does live action movies like Gintama and Hana Yori Dango), Rica Fukami as Chen (Sailor Venus in Sailormoon series), Hisao Egawa as Loki (Liscar in Fairy Gone) and Kinryuu Arimoto as Odin (Szilard in Baccano). Deep In Your Heart by Koichi Domoto feels like a very weird song for a series like this. It has this hip hop feel and some very heavy special effects. I don’t know, is groovy the right word? Also feels like a song a K-pop group would sing. Well, Koichi Domoto is part of a Japanese duo called Kinki Kids. While the song isn’t that bad, I just feel it doesn’t really fit the pacing of the series. The ending theme, Te Wo Tsunaide by Younha sounds more anime-like. Still, I feel it doesn’t fit the pacing of this series.

Overall, the anime is not entirely bad but suffers from its pacing for being too rushed and not explaining enough of the settings and other developments. It just shows you what needs to be shown and then solves and ends them as expected in a cliché manner. It’s also another one of those cliché tropes where men and those in charge try to play God in the name of humanity but of course mighty nature is mightier. If men had to resort to this kind of science to exist, then humanity have no right to exist at all! Because like Thor said, do you even call this living? Natural selection always the best. This Corona virus is doing a pretty slow job in this context… Oops, got off track there. Being man is sure tough. You have to be ruthless and reckless to climb all the way up to the top. Although you lose your humanity and become a beast but that is still what makes you most human. Weird, huh? I think I want to be a Verasona plant in my next life…

Darwin’s Game

May 3, 2020

Finally! A survival game that has actually some people die!!!!! Heh. Forgive me if that sounded very cruel but that’s only because I was tricked, trolled and frustrated by the previous survival game anime, Nakanohito Genome [Jikkyouchuu]. Yup. Nobody died in that one and everybody was like happy-happy helping each other to solve puzzles to go onto the next stage. Yeah, that was a bummer. Enough to make me forget that there were so many survival animes in the past that actually had characters dying. Ousama Game, Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, Juuni Taisen, Btooom and Gantz to name a few. So with a name like Darwin’s Game, I wasn’t putting my hopes up to it until a few episodes in, I realized that death really do happen here. Yay! My bloodthirsty darkness has been satiated! And just like the name suggests, it is a mobile app game in which people kill each other for whatever (and no, it doesn’t take place in a capital city of an Australian state!). Uh huh. The handphones that we are so dependent on nowadays are taking a step further. Instead of just watching ultimate big army fails and future Darwin award recipients on YouTube, let those dumb enough to play, fight and kill each other to the death! That’s the real value of entertainment, my friend!

Episode 1
In this hour-long special, Hamada is out of options. He is running for his life. His only hope left is to call for his friend, Kaname Sudou and hopes he will come in time. Unfortunately time runs out for him as he gets killed. In school, Kaname is looking at the recent news of pixelated body outlines littered throughout the street. Is this some sort of new graffiti? Hiroyuki Kyouda then comes in and is worried about Hamada absent. Kaname didn’t think much about it but shows him an app called Darwin’s Game that Hamada sent to him last night. Before Kyouda could warn him not to launch the app, Kaname’s finger is faster. A snake pops out and bites his neck. Kaname passes out but when he wakes up, he is in the infirmary and feels fine. Though, he wants to go home. Kyouda will talk to him later about this game at home. On his way home, Kaname launches the app again and is puzzled of his avatar and other details. Then the game starts. Kaname vs Banda. This local baseball panda mascot? Well, he is sitting right in front of you now. Banda approaches him and tries to kill him. Kaname runs for his life. He tries to get help from the police but Banda kills the officer! Lucky for Kaname, Kyouda is here to shoot his crossbows into Banda. But Banda uses his Sigil which is invisibility. Which is easily detected by Kyouda’s Sigil, infrared visions. Both wound each other as Kaname takes Kyouda to run and hide. But due to a search app, Banda is able to look for them (although not pinpointing their exact location). Kaname wants to call for help but nothing connects and a girl named Shuka Karino that she might help. Kyouda tells Kaname to run and leave him behind since he is targeted and hence Kyouda can’t be detected. Also, he needs to survive until the time limit is over to win. Kaname does so and will come back for him when this game ends. Kaname taunts Banda and fights him. The surprise attack worked at first but how can you kill someone who is invisible? Thankfully a car bangs into him. Oh sh*t! With time is up, Banda loses since he receives more damage. It is then his body starts disappearing in chunks of blocks, leaving behind a pixelated body outline. When Kaname returns to Kyouda, he is saddened he is already dead. Yup, that pixelated body outline. Kyouda left him a final message to survive. Thanks to his first win, he ranks up and receives a mysterious box delivered to his home. A gun. Wow… Is this game great or what?

Kaname needs to find out more about this game so he agrees to meet up with Shuka at the factory area. He asks how to quit but she already told him then you can’t. The only way is death. She will cooperate with him if he tells her his Sigil. Unfortunately he doesn’t know what that means. It should be something natural but he still doesn’t get it. Even his profile status listed it as error. She wants him to show his bag because if it contains weapons, the deal is off. While Kaname is glad he left the gun back home, inside the bag contains other survival weapons. His hesitant has Shuka irked. She calls off the deal and will kill him. Battle start. Kaname blinds her temporarily with his flashlight to run. But apparently she has control of the lights in the factory and has locked all exits. He runs for his life from her snake-like chain as he laments about this Sigil thingy. As he won’t give up and wishes for a weapon, now a gun materializes in his hand. This allows him to give him some breathing space. He then thinks of how this could be his Sigil and recalls the process of doing this. Shuka returns to hunt him but this time she gets fooled by his decoy. The gun shoots out the electric box and takes out all the lights. Because Kaname’s eyes have been adjusted to the darkness, he barges towards her until he pins her down and materializing another gun to checkmate her. She warns him to kill when he has the chance but he is adamant he has his own way in dealing things. She is now convinced he doesn’t know anything about this game. She cancels the game by admitting surrender. This means surrendering her points to her as well as her obedience. Kaname is so relieved they both get to live that he collapses on her. Just like that? Maybe she took it the wrong way because when he wakes up, he is sleeping in her bed. Naked. She is also naked and all over him. What’s this request? She wants to make a family with him???!!! Is this part of the game?! Since when Darwin’s Game is some dating sim too?!

Episode 2
Shuka has a reason why she sleeps without clothes. Whatever. Thanks for the fanservice. Oh, that family thing? It’s like making a clan. A guild. A team. Hey, don’t blame us for thinking otherwise if she had better chosen her words! Shuka further explains some of the rules that one can avoid being challenge by taking their name off the list by paying points. However this does not exclude a direct confrontation when a challenger does so before the player. Kaname agrees to take up her offer to form a clan. However because of his low rank, he can’t. So why doesn’t Shuka just invite him straight? She wants a man to do the invitation. Sheesh. Work hard and rank up… Since there is going to be a treasure hunting game soon, Shuka has Kaname take her out shopping. Women need to buy clothes and more clothes, you know. Also she explains further players of Darwin’s Game cannot disclose this publically to outsiders. Violation of such rules means ‘ejection’ from the game. You know what that means, right? Meanwhile, Inukai buys info from Rein Kashiwagi about Kaname. He wants to get to him before others. So while Kaname waits for Shuka to finish her shopping spree, Inukai steals his handphone so that they could go talk. Inukai is interested in him because he ‘defeated’ Shuka who is known as the Undefeated Queen. She got to the top A Class without a single loss. So when she lost to him, he wants to ascertain this himself. Inukai instantly challenges him. Promising he won’t use his Sigil, his close quarter combat skills are still enough to take Kaname down. Over already? Meanwhile Shuka gets a call from Rein regarding some player she is searching for. Not much but at least Danjo’s Boxing Club has nothing to do with it. As for Eighth, their leader Wang seems to kill everybody he challenged. Oh, there’s something on Kaname too… Inukai is starting to get disappointed but Kaname fights back and uses his distraction to steal his handphone. The tables are turned. With Shuka coming to aid him, Inukai is forced to surrender. At this point, the treasure hunting game is about to begin. Everyone is teleported randomly throughout Shibuya. The goal is to collect 3 rings. Of course there isn’t enough rings. Those who failed within the allotted time will be game over. Yup, a scramble for survival. Wang likes this and thinks this is up his alley. A girl thinks she can take him out but unfortunately Wang uses his Sigil and before she knows it, she’s dead. One player out. 299 more to go.

Episode 3
More rules are explained that one cannot go out of bounds or it’s game over. One can also use the alternative camera to find the rings although it doesn’t pinpoint its exact location. Kaname is in a hotel room. He finds a ring nearby and the moment he steps out, damn, lots of body art everywhere! Must be his worst day since he encounters this death Nazi guy. This guy got a machine gun! He tries to run but the stairs exits are all covered with plants. I don’t think slamming on the elevator button will make the lift come faster. Confronted by that death Nazi guy, Kaname will give his ring in exchange for his life. However, Kaname is holding a gun and death Nazi guy is still wary. Luckily, his machine gun jams. Kaname points his gun but he is too shaky to pull the trigger. Death Nazi guy finds this match boring and lets him live as he enters the elevator. As Kaname rues this pathetic loss, he is about to take the elevator down when Rein advises him not to. Death Nazi guy is dead with plants all over him. Rein deduces that somebody’s Sigil of producing plants has locked all the players in this hotel. She suggests teaming up to survive. Meanwhile this game is being watched by wealthy influential people. We see Shuka in the lead with 6 rings and Wang right behind her with 5 although his clan has amassed 18 of them. Kaname is cautious about Rein but after she lets him know all the info she knows about him and his winning streak, Kaname feels his last one was pathetic. Rein explains in a battle royale, individual matches don’t count and points of dead players are distributed to survivors. Kaname agrees to team up since both of them have the same strategy of running away. Besides, Rein doesn’t find running away anything shameful. In fact, in this game it is considered artistic and creative. That’s why when a challenged player survives by doing so, he/she is ruled the winner. This is how Rein has been surviving. While Kaname notes his luck has got him this far, Rein points out that it is rather because he never gave up. Their plan is to make their way to the top. As they see more dead bodies, they realize the ones in the elevator didn’t turn into pixelated body outlines. Could it be that the perpetrator only known as the Florist has drugged them under his control? Better run because here they come. Even if they don’t have rings, how does he know where they are? The surveillance cameras. They realize he is in the control room. Are they going to shoot out all the surveillance cameras?

Episode 4
Florist uses some tactic to search door to door on each floor to find them. But some rooms are auto lock and the duo are hiding in one of them. Of course they can’t rely on this trick as Florist will soon realize this. True enough, Florist senses something amiss. He then narrows down where they are hiding from the surveillance cameras they shot out. His zombies barge into the room but nobody is there. A loud explosion is heard. Rein trying to bomb to plants blocking the path but it didn’t work. The next step is a gamble as she runs to the top of the hotel with the zombies chasing her. Man, she can outrun the zombies? Anyway, at the top floor, they start shooting but how can they all miss? We hear her narrate her Sigil. Like that Laplace demon, she has the ability to infinitely process all data from every movements of every miniscule atoms. Florist then realizes something else amiss. Where is Kaname? A loud explosion is heard outside the control room. Kaname using Rein as a diversion has climbed down outside the window to the ground floor where Florist is. Florist comes out of his hiding. He claims he is playing this game for money. He needs the money. Because when someone dies, it helps someone else. Kaname doesn’t like this BS and fights him but his plant armour is hard to penetrate. Also, Florist has seen through Kaname’s Sigil. Although he can replicate any weapons he has seen, it is not unlimited as the more he replicates, the more it takes a toll on his health. Kaname gives all he has got but to no avail. Almost passing out, he hears the soothing sound of a blacksmith forging a sword. Don’t really understand the advice gave Kaname but it made him realize he needs to make adjustments to his machine gun weapon. So in order to make harder bullets, he shortens the lifespan of the machine gun. This time the bullets penetrate Florist’s armour. Florist admits his defeat and wants to die but Kaname won’t allow that. With Rein joining them, he asks Florist AKA Ichiro Hiiragi how many rings there are in this hotel. As she can tell, this treasure hunt is about to end and the strong players will be facing each other off. As Eighth is currently the most powerful clan, they need to form a ragtag clan to fight them. People like them are already exhausted so they have no chance of fighting them on their own. So either they survive by cooperating together or die separately.

Episode 4.5
Seriously?! Really?! REALLY???!!! REEEAAAAAALLLLYYYYYYY??????!!!!!! A RECAP EPISODE????!!!!! This show is going to be the first of the season to get a Darwin award…

Episode 5
Shuka is bored at killing camping snipers so she heads down to the subway. Isn’t that more dangerous? Kaname makes a deal with that death Nazi guy to set him free if he promises not to attack them. He even invites him to join their team but he disagrees because he doesn’t want to team up with Hiiragi who brainwashed him. As he leaves, he heard them formulating a plan to counter Eighth. That is when he changes his mind and wants to join. He’s got a bone to pick with them. Unmasking himself, he introduces himself as Ryuuji Maesaka. They discuss about the oddly valued gems (because some valuable ones seem to rank lower than those that aren’t) and the very vague rules. Meanwhile Shuka faces off with a psychotic kid, Souta. She thought his Sigil is only water but he can also freeze it into ice and this traps her weapons. She thought of running away but he sealed up the place and flooded it. Shuka going to drown? So when Kaname who is waiting for Shuka to rendezvous with them, receives a help message from her, he thought it was a joke. But he soon realizes it can’t be so he decides to go save her. Can’t leave a comrade behind. Ryuuji will also follow him while the rest stay back to hold the hotel as a fort in anticipation of Eighth’s attack. Ryuuji learns Kaname’s Sigil to create things but only simple and small ones. Ryuuji would love to trade his Sigil with his because he finds his own Sigil to detect truth or lie to be useless. The duo then encounter a young girl, Sui. Ryuuji’s Sigil comes in handy as he could tell she isn’t lying that she doesn’t want to fight. She tries to warn them about the subway but Kaname still wants to dive in and swim? Plus, so heroic this guy that he wants Ryuuji to return to the hotel if he isn’t back in 5 minutes and give his rings to Sui. Wow. After he dives in, Ryuuji notes Sui lied on one part and wants her to tell the truth. But she uses her Sigil to distract him and run. Ryuuji can’t kill her since killing kids are bad. Besides, he needs to extract info and so he goes after her.

Episode 6
Souta is hiding from Ryuuji as he is communicating with his twin sister, Sui about killing this dude or else they won’t survive this game. Sui is against any killing but with desperate times, they need to take action. Luring him to a convenience store, Sui then uses her Sigil to turn all the water in the bottles to capture him. Souta still wants to kill him but Sui fights hard to prevent any bloodshed. Kaname has found Shuka lying at the bottom of the underground pool. So CPR is enough to bring her back to life?! Great reward for him because she gives him a proper kiss. I don’t know. I felt like she was just waiting for this moment to happen. Shuka also tells him her reason of playing this game. It is to find her parents’ murderer (a Chinese Freddy Krueger?) and avenge their deaths. Then another game announcement. A new ring pops up and the survivors are to look for it. Shuka hears out Sui and would have killed her had not all this event led to her being close to Kaname. Lucky kid. Sui explains Souta is her twin brother who died in an accident. However when she entered this game, she got her wish and his soul came back although it is inhabiting her body. Okay, we believe you he isn’t an imaginary friend. Rein has replied regarding the numbers on the rings. Hence Kaname tells everyone to toss away all the rings they have now and go for the real big treasure that will end this event. Eighth is starting to assault the hotel. Knowing they are outnumbered, Hiiragi tells Rein to get away while he sacrifices himself to hold them down. Hiiragi can’t throw away the rings as he needs the money for his daughter’s surgery. Rein advises him that if she was his daughter, she will be sad to know her father died in some weird game. Something that is worse than having any sort of disease. Eighth makes their way into the hotel. Led by Sig, he heads in first because he knows very well his fiery Sigil can burn on any plants. After riding up to the top level, the rest are waiting below. That is where Hiiragi comes to slaughter them all. Then he returns back up to fight Sig. Rein has gotten away from the hotel as she narrates about those numbers corresponding to the hardness of the precious stones. Arranging them together, it displays the coordinates which is the centre of Shibuya station.

Episode 7
Rein told Hiiragi of the men he needs to be careful in Eighth other than Wang. Keiichi Katsura whose Sigil allows him to crush others without using his fist and Sig who has fire properties. Thanks to this info, Hiiragi is able to escape death at Sig’s hands. However with Keiichi joining in and helping out, Hiiragi is dealt a fatal blow. But he isn’t going down without a fight so he uses his plants to crumble the entire hotel and take out everyone with him. Rein has reached the station but realizes there are more Eighth members here. She tries to get away but is spotted. As long as she doesn’t get in Wang’s way, she’ll be safe. But surprise! The big bad wolf pops up before her despite she is using her Laplace abilities. He breaks her arm and forces her to reveal info. Luckily she stalls for enough time for Kaname and co to arrive. Kaname wants to negotiate but Wang laughs at this proposal of theirs. You think they are equals? Eighth’s policy is to take and take! Negotiations break down so it’s a mad slaughterhouse. Rein thinks hard and deep and needs to go deep into her Laplace just to find the meaning and answer. So from what she found, the numbers correspond to the date when Charles Darwin published his The Origin of Species. This is where the real treasure is. Ryuuji observes Wang’s Sigil of being able to teleport and slice within 5 metres. As long as he stay out of that range, he is safe. But distractions from other Eighth members allow Wang to close in and rip off Ryuuji’s arm. Wang is going to show off to his men in killing Ryuuji when Kaname pops up and surrenders! WTF?! He claims he has the key to the real treasure and in exchange for this, he wants their lives to be spared. So consider give and take policy now?

Episode 8
Ryuuji can tell Kaname is lying. But will Wang fall for it? He is not like other members who are out for the money. Flashback shows Ryuuji wants revenge on Wang because he killed his brother. Ryuuji continues to hear Kaname lying from one BS to another about the key and the real treasure. Although Wang plays tough, Ryuuji can tell he is also worried. Wang finally agrees but will still kill Ryuuji since he is already halfway through his execution. Kaname doesn’t care. They just formed an alliance out of convenience. Kaname throws him the key and after Wang catches it and realizes something is wrong with it, before he could order his men to kill him, Kaname keys in the code to the locker he is standing next with and it opens. The game is over and Kaname is declared the winner. All the gamblers watching this are thrilled with this unknown Kaname as the winner. But there is one who bet on him and won… Inside this locker is a handphone. Answering it, it is the voice of the host and game master of this game. Naturally Kaname is angry for being dragged into this but the host just explains the points and rewards he will get. But here’s the best part: As the winner of this treasure hunt, he will be granted a special privilege. Of course a privilege must be something the host can grant. So too bad Kaname, can’t quit the game yet. The host then reveals 2 ways to exit this game: Either you complete the game or you kill the host and destroy the game system. Kaname thinks hard for his privilege… The host also gives him a new Sigil called Fire God of Iron. 2 months down the road, the hotel is sealed off and the reports say it was the work of terrorism. Shuka discussing with Sui of buying a house to serve as a base for their clan. Hey, she’s a rich girl. But can’t they just use her own house? Maybe she wants some privacy? Hideaki Kanehira from the insurance company sees Suzune at the hospital to pass her a cheque over her father’s death. She doesn’t take this ‘joke’ likely and kicks him out. Rein is waiting outside and is the one responsible to see Suzune got the money. Hideaki wants to meet Kaname but Rein isn’t his manager or anything. Later Suzune bumps into Rein and they become some sort of friends. But Rein gives her contacts in case she wants to find out the truth about her father. Ryuuji is finally healed by Kaede who is a member of Danjo. Of course he is also friends with the big man, Danjo himself. Inukai has been training Kaname and it seems he is all buffed up and ready! Kaname wants to form an alliance with Danjo but Danjo wants to see if he is worthy of that alliance. So an all-out fight using their Sigil on the cards, right? Meanwhile, Kaname’s friend, Shinozuka tries to look for him at his place but he is not around. But a member of Eighth is… Oh sh*t…

Episode 9
In this no holds barred match, Kaname goes all out against Danjo and despite all the weapons he conjure, he has to keep Danjo at bay or else getting to close means game over. That is all Kaname has done using his Sigil but Danjo has used none of his. Just when Danjo gets close enough, Kaname drops his grenade in an apparent suicide move. But the bomb is a dud and it was enough for Danjo to turn his body into steel as anticipation. Though Danjo acknowledges him, he wants to fight Kaname longer. Unfortunately the match is interrupted when Liu Xuelan (the top Darwin’s Game player) interrupts to kidnap Kaname. Shuka is of course angry to hear this. But it’s not like everyone else just stood there and do nothing. They couldn’t do anything at all. They felt they were killed but once they come to, their bodies are still intact and Kaname gone. It is believed that is not Xuelan’s Sigil but her ancient Chinese energy art. As Kaname is their leader, they’re going to get him back. Xuelan tells Kaname that she comes from a line of assassins. She wants him to work for him. She has observed him and found that his style is very suitable for war. Also, she wants to ensure an heir and doesn’t mind bearing his child. Geez, this is getting weirder! Soon their car is being chased by Shuka’s group. Xuelan wants Kaname to tell his group to back off but instead he tells them to do whatever it takes to stop this car. Then he throws down a challenge to her that if she can beat his clan, Sunset Ravens (?!) without killing anybody, he’ll join her and even be her husband! That’s a promise. Xuelan puts up a formidable fight and even Shuka’s sweating. In the end, it is Kaname who helps out in the distraction for the rest to put the car to a stop. Xuelan doesn’t admit defeat but her driver, Ximing does so. Considering their situation, Sunset Ravens has got the capacity to get away clean unlike them. He advises to make allies than enemies. Xuelan admits defeat but refuses Kaname’s offer to be their ally. However she will join his clan to see for herself if he is worthy to be her man. Everyone objects. Especially Shuka! Kaname accepts and has seen for himself Xuelan keeps her word. No doubt she can betray them anytime but makes a condition for her to join Sunset Ravens: If she is going to betray them, betray him first. Betraying other members is unforgiveable. With that, Xuelan is now part of the clan. Meanwhile Wang and Eighth have tortured Shinozuka and cutting all his fingers! They send a video message to Kaname and wants him to come here or else more misery for his friend.

Episode 10
Rein sees a friend, Kotori to get more info on Eighth. In exchange, she wants to join Sunset Ravens (despite she herself is in a clan of her own). Rein can’t guarantee anything but will pass that message to her boss. Meanwhile Kaname is mad. Please don’t take it out on the wall… Ryuuji calms him down that they can ask Kaede to heal him and at the same time they can kill this Wang piece of sh*t. After he calms down, they devise a strategy to rescue Shinozuka. Based from the video frame, Rein could tell they are in some port warehouse (seagulls!). First they call the police to surround the place. They will be the distraction they need to sneak in to rescue Shinozuka. But only Inukai is available to help them as the rest of his clan members are busy fighting off another clan, Uroboros who is believed to have ties with Eighth. Wang didn’t like the police showing up before his playtime with Kaname so he has Keiichi (yes, this guy survived) blow off one of their heads! Then the rest proceed to slaughter the rest of those useless cops. Meanwhile, Shuka manages to sneak in a handphone to Shinozuka (is her chains not strong enough to carry him away?). Kaname talks to him and wants him to become a participant in Darwin’s Game. Just click the link. It’s going to be hard without fingers… Shinozuka wants to survive so he uses his tongue to become a participant. With that, his Sigil seems to be some sort of telekinesis, shoving things away with great force. Like this new skill, huh? Until he faces off with Wang… Meanwhile Inukai fights off Keiichi so the rest could sneak into the warehouse. Inukai knows all about Keiichi who was a karate sportsman and could have been a great one had he not accidentally killed his opponent during a match. Keiichi elaborates he regretted it since everyone since then viewed him as the enemy. So while he was depressed, Wang came to save him. So to get over his depression, just kill more people!!! OMG. That’s the extreme version of fighting fire with fire. Well, sad to say it worked for Keiichi. Kaname and Ryuuji come face to face with Wang. Kaname will fight him so as to release his friend. But Wang corrects him that he doesn’t to fight him. Just to see his despair face. Because he cut up Shinozuka and put him in the box!!! OH SH*T!!! Kaname now in despair!!! Wang then blames it is all Kaname’s fault that because he tricked him and made a fool out of him, some innocent guy had to die. Wang orders his men to kill them. But you can see Kaname is John Wick dead serious mad. An accurate shot right in the forehead of one of Wang’s men. No more nice guy.

Episode 11
Kaname invokes his special privilege and starts a clan battle. Damn, a perfect headshot into all the Eighth’s goons! When Wang targets him, Kaname lets Shuka fight him while he and Ryuuji dispose the rest of the trash. In a different warehouse, Shuka taunts Wang like hell. But when Wang attacks, he realizes his foot got cut off! He tries again, this time from behind but now his hand is chopped off! With Shuka continuing to taunt him, Wang then realizes the entire place is covered with thin wires. But is that enough to cut off limbs? As Shuka controls them, she can make them vibrate and turn into some mean saw. Wang is now scared and tries his final trump card of switching pace with Shuka (since he is tied up by the wires). However this failed and he loses another feet. Now he is begging for his life and tries teleporting away to escape. Too bad he landed outside before Kaname and Ryuuji. Not wanting to die, Wang surrenders. Sunset Ravens wins but Kaname views the rewards obtained from Eighth not enough. Considering how much Eighth took from them, it’s never going to be enough. Apparently this is Kaname’s privilege. Some winner takes all strategy by betting all his chips and his opponents must bet the same. So if the opponent has less chips, they lose. Hence Kaname can bet as many points he wants at the start of the game to increase his points. Wang realizes his reign as king is over. He accepts his loss and impending death but warns Kaname that he has become just like him and many others will die at his feet. Kaname pumps a few bullets into him before he disappears. Yeah. STFU and just die. Kaname now sets his sights on the game master and will put an end to this game. This is the goal of Sunset Ravens. Meanwhile we see the game master contacting another bloodthirsty killer, Oboro. As the game will move on to the next phase, he warns Oboro not to engage with Kaname yet as he is putting him on special observation. Just like Wang whom he thought would become the eye of the storm, this led to the creation of a more powerful player AKA Kaname. Until the next phase, Oboro must steer clear of Kaname as they will have a big role to play then. We see Sunset Ravens owning anybody trying to be funny. It seems they have invoked a special rule: A ban of Darwin’s Game on their turf. Anybody defying this rule will pay the price. It’s effective quite effective and they’re expanding their territory…

Natural Selection: May The Odds Be In Your Favour
I don’t think it will turn dark but there could be a possibility. What I mean is that Sunset Ravens becoming the new group of villains! You see, some of their members really will stop at nothing to teach non obedient players a lesson (although short of killing them but that itself is still a last resort), they now have a ‘uniform’, all dark and grey garb that makes it look like as though they are attending a funeral, they have a badass clan logo to boot, and they are muscling and expanding their territory like some new yakuza clan on the rise. Don’t they just look like bad guys now? While the possibility is miniscule, the chances are not zero. After all, Kaname might lose sight in his bid to find the game master but I’m confident with his members by his side, they’ll bring him back to the right path.

The overall premise may look like some simple survival game. Kill your opponent to survive or at best make them surrender. As we can see, it goes beyond that and it is a shame that for the time being it doesn’t have further episodes to flesh out the development and other potentials. I’m sure that many of us would be asking who the organizers and host of this game, their intentions of having such a bloodthirsty game. It could be for just entertainment purposes but my guts tell me it is more than that. A hidden agenda. But then again, sometimes my guts could be wrong. But I don’t think so. Maybe. Heh. Even this season’s story of introducing our main character into this death game, showcasing the main event and finally ending with a somewhat clan war outside the game itself, the plot itself is still engaging from start to finish and you can’t help feel wanting more of it or can’t wait for the next episode to roll out. At least, that’s how I felt. This season again like I’ve said may not be much but it does enough to help establish Kaname and his Sunset Ravens as formidable players-cum-survivors, which I feel is the main element of focus. Considering Kaname’s no-kill policy, he might end up recruiting a hell lot of people. Just saying…

Action wise might not be a masterpiece but it is still engaging. After all, this is the main draw of the anime, right? As long as people die, blood spilled and at least limbs are coming off left and right, what is there more to complain? Having the participants possessing a unique Sigil makes the action sequence a bit more exciting and adrenaline pumping. But there are limits using them so they can’t spam us Sigil moves all the way. That’ll be no fun. Otherwise, Kaname could have just materialized tanks and outrageous guns from video games to just blow away the competition. Can’t have our main character to do something so easy if we want to at least support this guy, no? Since this show isn’t some mystery puzzle, I thought the treasure hunt riddle was a let-down. I was expecting something more out of it but the solution turned out pretty meh. Like as though plot convenience was the main key here.

One of the ‘scariest’ things about this series is when a participant dies for good in the game, his/her body would disappear and leave behind a pixelated body outline. For me, the caved in contour of blocks looks pretty scary. I don’t play Minecraft but those blocky leftover blocks also look like they came from that video game.

Though character wise, I feel it is somewhat lacking in this department. I’m not saying it is the worst but it leaves more room for improvement. As I mentioned, this season feels like introducing Kaname’s clan. However we hardly know anything more about the characters in Sunset Ravens than what has been minimally revealed in the anime. Everyone has their own reasons and circumstances to play this game but aside Shuka and Ryuuji wanting revenge and Kaname wanting a total way out as well as burying this game for good, there is nothing deeper about these characters. Maybe in the future they will be fleshed out better but for now, it just seems that they’re part of Kaname’s group because he spared them and also they aren’t the worst sh*t characters in the game and hence share a somewhat common goal to work together and survive this mess.

Kaname is your typical underdog main character. A wuss who gets dragged into something he doesn’t want to get involved but thanks to luck (which I feel it is a big factor) that has him stand out and survive this long. We see his character grow from a puny high school student to become a respectable no-nonsense leader of a small clan. With all his high school friends dead, you bet he isn’t going to take their deaths lightly. His no-kill policy might be a no brainer in a game that commands death from its participants but so far it is working out for him. And for the better. Hey, if something works, it cannot be entirely stupid, can it? Though, his 100% clean record is now shattered because he made his first kill on an Eighth member. So don’t f*ck with this guy now. And especially don’t you dare f*ck with his comrades. Hey, even Batman has killed people despite his no-kill policy. Though of course, this is only applicable to real scumbags but it still sends a message not to mess with them because they really mean business. Sometimes you have got to be cruel to be kind. So if you find Kaname’s serious face now scary, until this crap game is destroyed, no time to take it easy.

The rest of the other members in Sunset Ravens, well, I thought Shuka felt lacking ever since she fought Kaname the first time. Ever since she voluntarily became subservient to him, it’s like she tamed down a lot. Remember how she was almost killed once during the treasure hunt? Yeah, why do my guts tell me it is the feelings of love that got in the way? For now, she is painted as some waifu material for Kaname. If that didn’t convince you, now we have Xuelan joining in to ramp up the rivalry for Kaname’s chastity. Maybe all she wants is to play family and this dysfunctional family in the name of Sunset Ravens is just fine for her as long as Kaname comes home. Food for thought: If Xuelan is the top player in Darwin’s Game, does this mean she is the stupidest player???!!! Oh sh*t! Please don’t cut me!!! Okay, okay, I get it. Xuelan is the top player means she is the best survivalist. Period.

The other survival game we might or might not want to see… This one I feel is going to get bloodier… Then we have a pair of loli girls, Rein the info master and Sui for who knows what. Whatever the latter, I guess her split personality with Kouta comes in handy sometimes for battle purposes. So as not to make this look like a harem, that’s why we have the other guy, Ryuuji. I thought Hiiragi would have been a great edition to the team but I guess if they want to satiate my bloodlust of body count, somebody has to die… Ah well, it wasn’t a big surprise. After all, his character wasn’t part of Kaname’s gang in the opening and ending credits… Big hint… No wonder his character gets the most fleshing out especially something about his hospitalized daughter. Characters who are going to die get the sort of privilege and make peace with whatever before they go permanently.

You got to agree with me in some ways that Wang is one of the most despicable characters ever in all of series villains. I believe they really want to make his character that way and they did a pretty good job in that. This guy could be the devil himself reincarnated as he is merciless, ruthless, cruel and just pure evil. If you are afraid of Eighth, that’s because you are really afraid of only this guy. Because the rest of the punks in Eighth are just pretty meh. Even Keiichi and Sig couldn’t match up to Wang’s cold blooded lust. It’s the reason why Eighth has got a fearsome reputation and I believe it is only thanks to Wang. So when Wang was being tortured and killed in the finale, we didn’t feel any pity for him and just glad he bite the dust. Good riddance. No love lost from us. Live by the sword, die by the sword. He got what he deserved. Eighth could just be a drop in the ocean as it is hinted there are other fearsome clans out there. Uroboros could be the umbrella group for Eighth and other ‘evil’ clans. Well, both clans have a snake eating its own tail as its logo, right? So Eighth is just the tip of the iceberg for Sunset Ravens as there will be other even more psychotic groups out there.

Art and animation are okay but sometimes I feel the overall tone of the visuals is somewhat a little bland. I don’t know, I just feel like the colours are a little dull and blunt. Especially some of the dark scenes. I only want to comment on Wang’s character design, the more I look at him, the more he starts looking like some snakey devil. Honest. Like I’ve said, they want to really paint this guy to be the embodiment of evil so he has got to look the part as well. Don’t stare too long or he might steal your soul! Yikes! And also Danjo… Is his character taken after X-men’s Colossus?! See the obvious similarities: He is Russian and a strong guy who turns into steel! OMG… This anime is produced by Nexus. They don’t produce much anime (average an anime a year) and the other shows they did lean more towards cute girls such as Comic Girls, Granbelm and Wakaba Girl (Shuka, Rein and Sui are cute but not as anime moe cute as these girls). So doing Darwin’s Game as their first serious title may be the reason they want to do something different.

For the voice acting, you got to agree with me that the best one goes to Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Wang. If you think voicing the gruffy scruffy uncouth Inosuke of Kimetsu No Yaiba was his best non-Kirito-like characters, you haven’t seen anything yet. As Wang, he takes the cake trying to really make his character sound very despicable that you would love to hate. Kudos and hats off to a voice acting job well done. The other recognizable seiyuus are Takhito Koyasu as Hiiragi, Ai Kayano as Xuelan and Akira Ishida as Oboro. The rest of the other casts include Yuusuke Kobayashi as Kaname (Shin in Kenja No Mago), Reina Ueda as Shuka (Akane in SSSS.Gridman), Taku Yashiro as Ryuuji (Ebitani in Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa), Nichika Oomori as Rein (Yurine in Jashin-chan Dropkick), Yumiri Hanamori as Sui and Souta (Seth in Radiant), Junya Enoki as Inukai (Hiro in Kuutei Dragons) Shunsuke Takeuchi as Danjo (Seba in W’z), Konomi Kohara as Suzune (Chika in Kaguya-sama Wa Kokurasetai) and Masaya Matsukaze as the game master (Suiryu in One Punch Man S2). The opening and ending themes are rock based, Chain by Asca and Alive by Ayano Mashiro respectively. They suit the pace of the series well but they’re not my cup of tea.

Overall, not the best survival themed anime out there but it is still a lot entertaining and interesting. It just needs another season to develop the story and characters more. And more blood and deaths altogether! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Oops, sorry. I hope people wise up and learn at least something after watching this anime. Don’t simply click on suspicious app links! But then again, have humans ever learnt throughout the course of evolution? Probably not. That’s why we’ll get more Darwin award recipients in the futures to come. Evolution or devolution, Charles Darwin would certainly turn in his grave. And to think that they would name a death game after him… On second thought, it couldn’t be more of an aptly honour in his name. It’s not how evolution really works, but whatever. Okay people, let’s go for Da-WIN!

Okay guys. It’s time to resume the war. Sword Art Online: Alicization – War Of The Underworld continues where it all left all. That weird cliff-hanger of Kirito being hit by the surge and that very weird Asuna coming down to save him as an angel. Sheesh. I suppose that Kirito has defeated the God of this (VMMORPG) world, he now has to face the demon. Sure, ‘God’ was the demon but now it is the real demon’s turn to wreak havoc since Administrator is gone. I guess restarting the game from an earlier save point is out of the question. Oh wait. Did Kirito even save his game somewhere?

Episode 0
Sometimes dubbed as Sword Art Online: Alicization episode 24.5, if you have a lousy memory, don’t worry, we have this recap episode just to refresh all the important moments in this long running arc.

Episode 1
Big shock! We see Alice living back in her hometown with Selka. The shock? Kirito is now a wheelchair ridden vegetable!!! OMFG!!! Somehow he is so attached to his sword and Eugeo’s that it’s like his bolster? Alice takes him out for a walk. Flashback shows after Kirito was struck with the certain power outage, he became a vegetable. Alice just regained consciousness and with Bercouli arriving, she told him what happened. In turn, he told the other Integrity Knights about the imminent threat from Dark Territory. Hence they started training and recruiting but with Alice hearing some of them badmouthing Kirito (after all, he killed the Pontifex which led to this problem), Alice took him back to Rulid Village. So everybody just let her go like that? Arriving at the village, her father of course is shocked to see her returned. Because she was still a criminal, they can’t let her live here and hence a nearby cabin in the outskirts of this already remote village. Could have been sex-with-Asuna-but-Alice-this-time-v2 only if Kirito is not a vegetable! Alice makes some money by helping villagers cutting down tough trees. Like this cocky greedy Nigel Barbossa who is shaming his men for not being able to take down this oak tree. Damn those sexist men think Alice can’t cut it down too. We’ll see who has the last laugh when Alice slices it down with a strike after getting ‘permission’ to borrow Kirito’s sword. Barbossa wants to hire her for other jobs but she is sufficient just doing this. To make things worse, other men knock off Kirito so as to take a look at his sword. Luckily Alice tells them off. Don’t mess with her. They leave but you can tell they aren’t too happy about it. Alice starts to think if this is the kind of world they are fighting for. Back home, they are visited by Eldrie. This guy has finally found them and hopes Alice would come back to help the Integrity Knights. So she took off by herself, eh? And were so busy preparing that they didn’t even notice she was gone for a while? Eldrie mentions they have taken steps to stop the invasion (like bombing the cave entrances) but they still want her back. Thinking Kirito is the reason her heart is astray, he wants to eliminate him but Alice digresses. Kirito fought with his own justice. Otherwise how could all the Integrity Knights lose to him one by one? With that, Eldrie leaves. That night, Kirito starts to act strange. Fire over the horizon. Dark Territory attacking?

Episode 2
Alice drops in on the villagers who are thinking of protecting the village instead of running. All because Barbossa wants to protect his property. Hence Alice reveals casts away her shoddy robe to reveal her Integrity Knight armour, shocking everybody. Using her authority, she dismisses Zink’s orders and to have everyone evacuated. Alice then singlehandedly fights off the goblins and orcs with her powerful move, sending many of them fleeing. As the village is being rebuilt, Alice takes Kirito and flies back to the capital to fulfil her duty and hopes to return here when all this is over. Now we return to the siege on Ocean Turtle. Kikuoka and co have escaped and are minimally controlling things in this sub-control room. Other staffs have also taken refuge in other rooms. They realize the terrorists won’t aggressively use bombs to blow up the place because of the proximity of the Lightcube clusters. Even though the baddies got control of the main room and STL room, at least the silver lining is that their intention isn’t to destroy it. Judging from their gear, they aren’t with any official army and it is safe to know they know about this Project Alicization. Hence their goal is to seize ALICE. The good news is that they can’t interfere or eject Alice’s Fluctlight but Kikuoka’s side also can’t do the same. Noticing the destroyer is not doing anything, it is believed that the terrorists have ties with the top brass in SDF. They can’t attack not at least until Alice’s Lightcube is secured. Hence everything now relies on Kirito as he is the only one who can retrieve Alice’s Fluctlight. However, some mumbo jumbo sci-fi talk reveals that he might not be in the best position to do it. After that attack, his neural network was severely damaged. Placing him here was to treat him but diving into Underworld somehow didn’t block his memories. He has been living in this simulation for 2 years and hence he managed to contact the outside world via reaching Axiom Church. Something about him attacking himself and his own Fluctlight, this causes his self-destruction and ego deactivated when the outage hit him. Thus there is this black hole in his brain scan image that shows he has lost the ability to make some self-image decisions. His Fluctlight is unscathed but is only reduced to reflexive actions triggered by deeply ingrained memories. In short, a vegetable. Oh Asuna, your worried face so worried.

Episode 3
Remember those mysterious guys whom Kirito and his harem fought way back in the first episode of that GGO spinoff? Yup. They are the terrorists. Led by Gabriel Miller, he was approached by a couple of MIBs from NSA who hired him to steal Rath’s technology. Apparently, the damn Americans can’t have the Japanese gain such technology and destroy the military balance in the pacific. So how? Steal their technology first! Hence the raid on Ocean Turtle. Because they made some backdoor deal with the SDF, the Japanese military will not act for 24 hours. Also, say America is not involved! Damn Americans… Now in the main control him, his men, Critter and Vassago Casals are pointing fingers at each other for being locked out. Miller puts his foot down to order them to start thinking of a way to hack in. From what I understand, they have this idea to dive in to smoke out Alice. But all the high ranking accounts have been locked out and they can only dive in as a normal citizen. However they noticed the Dark Territory has the positions of Dark Knight and some Emperor available. Hence Vassago and Miller are going to dive in as these roles respectively. But Critter can’t put his mind around this warning about some final load test that keeps popping up. After Higa finishes explains about Kirito’s self-image thingy and perhaps all that he needs to turn him back on his feet is somebody to forgive him, you bet it is Asuna’s turn to dive in. After all, she has some great sword skills and need somebody to escort and protect Alice to the altar and eject her Lightcube. They have no time because that final load test is when Dark Territory invades the human empire. Thanks to Kirito destroying Axiom Church, who knows what will happen. And what convenience, Yui updates Kirito’s harem and friends about Asuna diving in. Be on standby… You don’t know when help is going to be needed. We now return to Underworld whereby in the Obsidia Palace inside Dark Territory, Dark Knight Lipia Zancale reports to her commander, Vixur Ul Shasta that the Pontifex is dead. Shocking as it sounds, he believes it is time to make peace. He believes Bercouli now in charge, they have a chance. The problem would be the Council Ten. Worse come to worse, he may have to eliminate some of them, especially the chancellor of the Dark Mages as she harbours desires to become emperor. All this bad news, Vixur suddenly proposes to Lipia to be his wife?! But more bad news. Some seal to the throne room is broken. Because Miller and Vassago have revived as Emperor Dark God Vecta and Dark Knight respectively.

Episode 4
When Miller was a kid, he was told insects can live without a head for a while because they have no brain and thus their entire body acts as their brain. This has him thought where would their soul be. In that case, for a human who cannot live without a head, where is their soul? It must be in the brain. And so he was interested in the soul of Alicia, his childhood friend. When he dived in, he saw a vision of her. Now that he has revived as the Emperor, all the tribes and guilds rush to assemble and serve before him. Vixur asks his intentions so Vecta did not hesitate he wants death and destruction. He only wants the Priestess of Light and therefore gives permission to everyone else to kill all other humans. Everybody rejoices that it’s war time. Vecta retires to his room as he makes contact with Critter. It has already been a day here but in the real world just merely minutes. He warns that he must not die or he’ll lose access to this super account and the next login will just be a grunt. When he goes to bed, Lipia offers her body to him. However Vecta could see it coming she was going to assassinate him. Swiftly he pins her down and demands her goal. She claims she is doing this for herself and that this war must stop or else history will be set back by a few hundred years. Vecta kills her. Then it’s like her soul exits from her head. Something Vecta had seen before. The time he killed Alicia, the same thing happened. He absorbed her soul and saw her memories. He loved it. Now he also sees Lipia’s memories. He loves it. Imagine the soul of Alice. He wants that sweet soul. Next day as all tribes and guilds gather before the launch of their attack, Vecta makes it known about that assassination attempt. He dares anyone to do so but must be ready to face the consequences. Then he shows the decapitated head of Lipia. This sends Vixur into rage. A Dark Mage poisons him. Before he dies, Vixur turns Super Saiyan but his tornado mode cannot put a dent on Vecta. He realizes too late that because this man knows nothing about life or love, he cannot be killed with a murderous intent or sword. Vecta orders the assault will go on as planned as all the tribes and guilds praise their awesome supreme commander. Meanwhile Alice has reached the eastern gate. It is breaking down. She sees an invading horde from beyond the horizon. Out of time, huh?

Episode 5
Alice returns to Eldrie. He’s happy to see her. But not so for vegetable Kirito. She thinks he will be a liability impeding her ability to fight against Dark Territory. She reasons otherwise. Then Bercouli comes by. Is he going to kill Kirito? Then some lightning flash attack that is being deflected. Bercouli’s attack was towards Kirito. Kirito deflected it proves he stopped it with his own willpower. He is alive but his mind is somewhere else. Bercouli believes he’ll be back someday. In the tent, Alice thinks of kissing Kirito to wake him up? Oh, somebody outside the tent. Tiese and Ronie. They heard about Kirito being here. Alice shows them Kirito’s current state and believes they will accept this reality. Of course they are overcome with emotions. Tiese even hearing Eugeo’s voice comforting her he will always be with her. Alice asks if they love Kirito. Some excuse why they can’t because of the sin they’ve committed. Alice disagrees and somewhat shows her original Alice form that would had been had she not become an Integrity Knight. All in all, thanks to Kirito, right? Conveniently, the duo will look after Kirito and take the burden off Alice’s hands. Next day, skip whatever Alice talk with Bercouli on Kirito. Also skip her talk with Fanatio who is grateful to Kirito for fighting with her as a true swordsman. Also skip whatever catfight they almost got into… In the strategy meeting, the battle will start once the eastern gate is destroyed. Something about this long narrow dark ravine means lack of resources for both sides and hence unable to launch powerful art techniques. They also have to spare some for healing. Alice theorizes there could be vast resources built up in the ravine over the years and there should be someone who can harvest it in that short amount of time. Fanatio points out only Alice can do it as she has surpassed the skills of an Integrity Knight. After the meeting, Alice says her goodbye to Kirito. It’s like she’s signalling some death flag of her own. She hopes her death might wake him up and bring a miracle to save the land once more. After all, he was the one who defeated Administrator. And then she goes to say her goodbye to Eldrie too. I guess we need to make this guy forget about Kirito and feel his gratitude for his mentor. Whatever. And now both sides of the divide wait for the moment when the eastern gate collapses.

Episode 6
Okay it’s here. The bloody massacre and mayhem of the war. Deusolbert who is manning the front line of the right flank fires away with his flaming arrows. Damn, he took out a bunch of goblins! But there’s more. Manning the front line of the left flank is Fanatio who is dealing with the giants. The Integrity Knights isn’t all doing well. Eldrie’s unit got smoke bombed, allowing goblins to run through since the Integrity Knights cannot simply swing their swords or risk striking their own. And there’s an Integrity Knight, Renly who has already cowardly abandoned his post and hiding in the storage room. When Fanatio unleashes a powerful attack, the hit missed the giant boss. He got so scared that it caused some programming bug whatever. This turns him into some berserker and as he is about to kill Fanatio (somehow her STL got jammed whatever, rendering her unable to move), an Integrity Knight, Dakira protects her. Using all her power until she is bleeding in every orifice to push the giant boss back. With her death, Fanatio powers up like mad and unleashes a powerful attack that slices the giant boss in half. Deusolbert has finally run out of arrows. The flatland goblin boss and his henchmen try to sneakily pin him down and clobber him. A soldier protects him and as the goblin boss is about to kill him, Deusolbert powers up and uses his own sword as a flaming arrow to strike through and burn not only the goblin boss but the rest of his waves behind! Alice is hovering in the skies. Did she just accumulated the souls of the dead into one big ball cluster?

Episode 7
Flashback shows Administrator viewed Renly as broken and deemed a failure. Renly thinks he would only be in the way. Tiese and Ronie then come in to hide Kirito. I guess that’s enough hiding for Renly. And then a goblin comes in. Yeah, everybody’s f*cked. Renly sees Kirito’s shaking hands. He thinks he wants to protect everybody despite being unable to move. More flashback as he was sparring with a friend in some tournament. But Renly broke his sword and slashed through him, killing him. Now he moves as he throws his spinning blades to decapitate the goblin. With his renewed confidence, he goes out and slice all of the goblins. Then he faces off with the mountain goblin boss who tries to get psychological with him, taunting him as a coward for being stationed this far back. Renly admits he is a failure. But not his weapons. And with that, the green boss got split in half. I guess Renly’s ready to go back to his unit now. The dark mages use some flying beasts for aerial assault but were swiftly taken down by Bercouli’s defence. Then they try some wide range incineration projectile thingy. However when they start chanting, nothing comes of it. They are stumped because with so many casualties in the battlefield, the souls of the dead would have been enough. I guess they’re too late since Alice already gathered them all in her ball. Then she uses it to unleash a devastating hellfire blast. Wow. It takes lives to take lives. Literally. So more dead souls, bigger ball, deadlier firepower next time?

Episode 8
Now what? Eldrie in depression because his unit failed to protect the frontlines and the enemy got as far back to the supplies section and luckily Renly took care of it? And that’s shameful? Oh dear. Alice needs to waste time assuring otherwise. They are then confronted by the ogre boss. He was caught in Alice’s hellfire but somehow survived. Observing that power came from her, he knows she is the Priestess of Light and wants to take her to Vecta. Then the war will end and the ogres can return to the grassland. So shouldn’t he take her with him since she sounds willing to go? Instead he attacks her and gets killed. Dark mage boss reports to Vecta about the unexpected art used by the Integrity Knights. He learns that lives and blood were used for this and since 3000 lives are all that she needs, he gives her permission to sacrifice the orcs. Orc boss doesn’t agree to this when dark mage boss tells him to gather his men for the sacrificial ritual. But his men are willing to die for Vecta and so that’s that. Alice tells Bercouli what she has learnt. She intends to head to the Dark Territory herself since the Altar is located there. Bercouli agrees on a condition 1/3 of the men accompany her and he will be part of that group. Alice prepares to head into the Dark Territory, the same time the dark mages begin their ritual. Orc boss can only watch in pain and hatred as his men die before his eyes. Now that a huge dark ball is summoned, it is directed towards Alice. Nothing can stop it, right? Oh well, time for Eldrie to be a hero, using himself as distraction to let the dark ball eat him. Even when he is dead, somebody gave him a push so that he could use his final push to absorb it all. Yup, his life going into negative! I wonder why he still isn’t dead at this point. Oh, it’s to have that final reconciliation and goodbye with Alice. After he dies, Alice gets mad and charges into the enemy lines. She’s like a villain burning them all down. Dark mage boss fears to be killed so she kills her own comrades just to stay alive. Alice then announces herself and this catches Vecta’s attention.

Episode 9
Vecta orders the next group to advance and take Alice in unscathed. This means the pugilist guild is now rushing into combat. Strangely, Integrity Knight Scheta wants to handle this one. Meanwhile Vecta allows Vassago to go sneak up on the enemy’s supply. Sneaky Vassago kills the unsuspecting guards as they patrol around the dark woods. A bulk of this episode focuses on Scheta fighting off the pugilist boss. Because of her poker face and lack of emotions, nobody can read what is on her mind. There is more than meets the eye to her. She has this very thin and flexible sword that can slash through anything bestowed by Administrator. She detected Scheta’s deep passion to slash anything and hence made her this sword. Gee, if she could slice up anything with ease like how she did to many of the pugilist members, shouldn’t she be fighting in the frontlines from the start? So the pugilist boss is the only one who is hard enough whom she can’t easily slash. Sword versus fist. See who is harder. You can say that both enjoyed fighting each other but had to abandon this fight since the main forces have caught up. Vassago thinks Ronie is her next victim but she’s smart enough to use not her sight to sense him. She calls out for reinforcements. So does Vassago. With the supply side compromised, Bercouli calls off whatever ambushed he had intended and request Alice and Renly to support the supply side. He will deal with the incoming enemy forces himself. Well, something will work out. Just before Vassago could kill Ronie, then this goddess Stacia pops up and opens a chasm to swallow up the enemies. Wait a minute. Doesn’t Stacia look like Asuna?!

Episode 10
Before Asuna dived in, she was told that this Stacia’s powers include altering the land. Because it puts a heavy load on her Fluctlight, she has to stop once she feels pain. Ronie and Tiese praise the aid of the goddess but Asuna denies and that she is just human who wants to see Kirito. What convenience. She is shocked to see him in his vegetable state and when she hugs him, damn, some movements and reaction from Kirito. Judging from this little reaction, I think he moved more than he did than the entirety of this season! When Asuna leaves the tent, Alice attacks her, thinking she is the enemy spy. Woah, ladies fighting over Kirito?! Did this turn into waifu wars?! They are stopped by Bercouli who believes Asuna isn’t the enemy because her ground opening move saved him from death at the hands of the enemy. Bercouli then has everyone gather to let Asuna explain. It’s a bit hard to explain what the outside world is. Nope, it’s not the divine realm either. She adds her mission is to extract Alice from this place. Once that happens, the war will stop. Alice is after all targeted by the Underworld who wants nothing more than to destroy this world. They deduce that Alice is wanted because she broke the seal on her right eye. When Alice remembers Administrator quoting the code 871 on it, Asuna realizes there is a mole among the Rath staffs. Asuna believes because Alice was able to go against the rules and broke the seal, the enemies could find her valuable in the other world. But Bercouli doesn’t understand. If this is the case, doesn’t this put Alice on the same level as humans in the other world? Asuna can’t say that for now and wants to take Alice to see the other world for herself. It is not utopia and it is far worse than here but there are still many who want to protect it. Like Kirito. There’s your buzzword. But for now, they will focus on defeating the enemies at hand. Asuna will join in and hopes to leave Vecta in her hands. Later that night, the waifu wars continue. Oh God… Asuna and Alice trying to outdo each other who spent more time with Kirito. Oh my God, Ronie! You want to join in this waifu wars too?! Liena too?! F*ck. The more the merrier. Thank goodness they decide to be more civil and talk and trade info about Kirito.

Episode 11
Administrator once talked to Bercouli how she felt death every day even in her dreams. Because she doesn’t have control over everything yet. Now Bercouli understands what she meant. Kirito time interrupted when Bercouli sounds the alarm. It seems the enemies are trying to cross the chasm with a flimsy rope? Apparently Vecta told them to do it and he doesn’t care if there are casualties. Of course this makes some mad but they can’t disobey their emperor. Of course it gets worse when the Integrity Knights come by to take them all out. Critter has synced the Underworld time with reality. Then he sends a tantalizing invitation to players in America to join this battle. Real blood. Real slaughtering. Oh yeah! Sign me up! Damn bloodthirsty violent Americans! Yui detects this and makes an emergency call to Shino and Sugu to take a taxi now and head to this address. Taxis are available at this time in Japan? That’s Japanese service for you! Kikuoka then gets a call from Rath’s Roppongi branch. A couple of ladies came knocking on their door asking to contact Kikuoka. They warn about the time synchronization and it seems they are going to dive in too. Meanwhile Yui is telling the rest of Kirito’s friends of what is happening. I don’t know about this Alice thingy who has existed since the first SAO and hence linking everybody together. Sounds complicated. Whatever the reason, they’re all going to save Kirito, right? However the problem is the time difference in reality. Right now it is the wee hours of morning in Japan and in America it is noon time so you bet there are going to be a lot more active players right now in America. Also, instead of starting from scratch, Yui suggests they can convert their current character data with all the cool stats to Underworld. Of course there’ll be problems… Lisbeth speaks to all the ALO players and pleads for their help. But when she relays the issues that they cannot log out, will feel real pain, will die and no guarantee they can convert back their character data, she is met with brickbats and scorn. They have no love lost for those SAO survivors. Lisbeth doesn’t give up and continues talking about their reality, truth and connections. Hope those tears did the trick. Back in Underworld, those damn bloodthirsty American players have arrived!

Episode 12
Those Americans attack the Dark Territory side. I guess as long as they can kill, anybody is fair game. Asuna alters the landscape to prevent further havoc. When pugilist boss sees Vecta flying over, he gets mad. Knowing he did not tell them about the other enemies, he does what Alice did last season as he gorges out his right eye. In his rage, he jumps over the chasm and saves Asuna from being slaughtered by the Americans. He then offers a deal. If she can create a sturdy bridge to let his men cross over, he will fight with them against the Americans. Meanwhile, Alice wanting to get to higher ground to incinerate more enemies, this proves fatal as she gets snatched by Vecta. So when everyone else receives this news, pugilist boss finds out from Asuna that it is the end of this world if Vecta gets Alice to the Altar. Pugilist boss wants the Integrity Knights to go after them. Because Dark Territory clans cannot go against the emperor, they might be given orders to fight against them. With Vecta already achieving his goal, it means the Dark Territory clan can do whatever they want. Hence their only choice is to stay back to fight the Americans and buy them time. He also has Asuna give Vecta a message once she catches up to him: That they are not his damned puppets! Vassago has awakened back in reality. He learns what happened and looks like Miller is now taking his solo action, proving that he has gotten the Priestess of Light. However it is detected the Integrity Knights are coming after him and it is going to be troublesome if they do so. Hence Critter is waiting for a second wave of Americans to log in and crush them. Vassago then remembers he lost to Asuna. This means Kirito is here. He wants to go back but with no more Dark Knight super account left, Vassago seems to have a special account for another express pass. Asuna and the Integrity Knight are now surrounded by the next wave of Americans. Renly going to sacrifice himself to make a path? Don’t be. Because here comes another angel to wipe out a bunch of those players. Is that you Shino?! Yes it is.

Kirito, So Thou Art Offline: Waifu Wars
Sighs… They really know how to extend the drama. Instead of making this a continuous double cour, they took a season break before airing the big finale. Hey, it’s all just a game, right? Sure, not for these people putting their lives on the line. I guess we too have to wait with baited breath for the liberation of Underworld. But I am guessing how things will turn out and it shouldn’t surprise me. Unless… And yeah, I find it that this season’s final ending scene to be similarly weird as last season. Because last time we had angelic Asuna extending his hand to save Kirito. Now we have Shino doing the same for Asuna. Is this going to be a trend as slowly Kirito’s other friends and harem join in the battle?

One of the weirdest expects in this season is Kirito being a vegetable. Yes, it was really bizarre to see the best swordsman in all virtual games to turn into some vegetable retard. So much so you could say that the recap episode at the beginning was the most that we will ever get to see him in action or acting normally. But this isn’t the first time that this series has done without Kirito as its main star. Remember that GGO spinoff title? The one where some little pink munchkin was running about and blazing away her opponents? Yup. That. However that was a spinoff but this is the real SAO main series. So to see Kirito being wheelchair ridden like as though he has turned into some grandpa waiting for the day he will kick the bucket, sometimes it also feels unsettling. Sometimes it feels like they are disrespecting the main character but I suppose this is all part of the plot and that at this point it is all too early to jump to conclusions. The great Kirito who defeated Administrator is now reduced to this? Hmm… Not very nice indeed… And he doesn’t even make any sort of appearance in this season’s final episode. Like as though he went missing. Not very nice indeed…

Hence some of the characters from last season won’t come back, namely Eugeo and Cardinal. Of course Administrator and Chudelkin too but they do appear in flashbacks. An excuse for never seen before scenes of them. So for Eugeo, I guess no BL yaoi for you fujoshi out there! He is happy living with the original loli Alice. In some alternate timeline. Hopefully. No wonder Kirito is so vegetable this season… Cardinal got her best hug last season. Yeah, she really needed it. All up to you now, Kirito. Oh wait. Make that next season.

With Kirito out of the main picture, this give rise to Alice as she temporarily takes Kirito’s place as the main character. Alice to the fore. It is most probably her indebt to him that makes her look out for him as much as he can. After all, we’ve seen what Kirito had done for her last season. I’m sure the feelings of the heart had something to do with it too (remember those few trolling scenes of her trying to take advantage of his vegetable state and kiss him?) but with Alice being more of a poker face and the imminent threat of Dark Territory getting in the way, I suppose no time for some disabled romance. Hah. Even AIs got feelings, you know. Yeah, virtual technology is this advanced. At least in this series. We got a little taste of the waifu wars although it started a bit late after Asuna dived in. Better late than never. Now we just need the rest of his harem to jump in and complete Kirito’s harem. The more the merrier. The stronger this team will be. Then we can get along fighting for his attention once the war is over. Real 3D girls and 2D girls fighting for his attention. Damn Kirito, you lucky bastard!!!! You better break out of that vegetable state soon or else there will be another kind of war that will be even more devastating!!!! HAHAHA!!!!! Oops…

Alice doesn’t take 100% of the spotlight as there are some episodes that are dedicated in focusing on a few new Integrity Knights like Renly and Scheta. While they have an interesting background, but it still feels short and like some sort of diversion. I mean, there are 30 over Integrity Knights and it would be a shame that we can count all of the known ones with just our fingers. I’m sure a good number is missing but adding a couple of them makes it look like they have a few more good Integrity Knights on their side. Still, I find it hard to relate them since their flashback is rather short as it just points out their flaws and then during the fight, they realize what is important and overcome it. There. Now the Integrity Knights can look like they have more reliable men on their side instead of just showing the usual ones that we already know and introduced from last season. Oh right. RIP Eldrie. In a way it is a good thing so we won’t have this dude get in the way of b*tching Alice x Kirito romance. Heh. If that ever is a possibility but with Eldrie out of the way, definitely no Alice x Eldrie possibility.

Strangely, I find myself to be more fascinated with the dark factions of Dark Territory. I noticed I was more glued and interested in watching them whenever they appear rather than the Integrity Knights or the recent waifu wars. Perhaps it is because there was not much data and info given about the Dark Territory in last season. So it seems that there are a bunch of lives on the other side outside of the human empire too. It’s a shame that they are being casted as the bad guys because some of them really seemed to have potential and interesting back story. But with Vecta being the cruel ultimate emperor, whatever he says is divine. Hence some dark tribes like the orcs and pugilists could have had better characterization if at least their side were fleshed out more. In some ways, I think I would side and sympathize with them rather than the Integrity Knights! Really.

Action wise, this season doesn’t disappoint as the war between both sides get brutal and bloody. But just as to show how powerful a single Integrity Knight is, that is why the Dark Territory side has the numbers and hence the cliché moment of taking a whole bunch of them out with their single powerful move. Don’t mind if we rake up the body count. Yeah, it feels like all those initially like the goblins and the giants exist in great numbers just to die in the battlefield. Some lesser human soldiers also die but we don’t see much of it. After all, a few Integrity Knights can take out a huge horde. Sometimes the impact of the powerful move is so great that the sound effect also affected my speaker and I have to tone it down so as not to turn my entire room into some sonic boom shockwave or something. And when those bloodthirsty Americans joined the fray, I guess they’re only there to add to the body count. Wow. So many online American players at the same given point in time? I’m sure those players who jumped right in only to be instantly killed by the powerful Integrity Knights are going to have some rage quit issues.

I still never understood all the technical terms and jargons. While the war of the Underworld is the main focus, there are still some scenes back at Ocean Turtle. Safe to say that I am still in the blur of all those jargons and that is the main reason impeding me from appreciating and enjoying this season to its fullest. I guess only the blood and gore speak to me, something a simpleton like me can understand. So whatever linking and synching all those virtual technological stuffs, nah, not really interested even if it is part of the plot. Like when they show certain characters going berserk and then their STL Lightcube being affected or something, like WTF is going on? Is this some excuse to tell us why they power up and could do more than their usual? Yeah, everything is just pixels and codes, right?

It is interesting to see and note that there is a possibility that humans may create AIs that are on par with real human beings, complete with their own independent set of thinking and emotions. As always, there is always debate and up in the air for discussion its pros and cons. When AI becomes too life-like and intelligent for us, probably that is when the nightmare begins. Or in today’s era, perhaps we’ll make more memes and jokes about AIs having rights and feelings! Hahaha! Oops… It is also interesting to see how many people will actually sacrifice what they have achieved just for others or the greater good. It’s a good opportunity to see their real character. So would I exchange my stats and put my life on the line for Kirito? Uhm… Erm… Uh… Let’s move on to the next topic, shall we?

This season’s art and animation is on par with last season. Superb stuff to say the least. You bet they can’t skimp on the quality as this series is such an important and popular name. But there are some CGI moments that are weak. Especially those that are of the battlefield and in the background. You won’t notice the first time round when the focus is on the main battle in front. But if you look closely to all the grunts and foot soldiers fighting each other, you can see the CGI animation is somewhat lame. This season’s opener is sung by Haruka Tomatsu. Resolution is your typical rock outfit that fits the pace of this season. But it is the ending theme, Unlasting by Lisa that attracts me. It is a slow ballad and despite its sad and gloomy outlook, it is also somewhat sounds beautiful and dramatically powerful.

Overall, this season isn’t all that bad but my only pet peeve is that they had to split this second half into 2 cours. I suppose we are heading into the final stretch of the longest arc in the series and they want to make the finale as epic as it is acclaimed to be in its original works. There is some great action this season but depending on your preference, that could be bad or good. And that factor is Kirito. Non Kirito fans will not matter since we can see how other characters are also capable in defending themselves instead of relying on the main character. But Kirito lovers might be crying foul for what they have turned him into this season. Oh well, this is to be expected if you’ve read the light novel. Hopefully when the final of the final comes around, the anime will do justice to its epic awesomeness. A lot of AIs died for our entertainment, you know.

Sounan Desu Ka

October 18, 2019

How good are your basic survival skills? Zero? Well. Same here. I suppose we have been so reliant and dependant on technology that now we take the basics of survival for granted. Sure, we think those YouTube videos and the internet can help when we’re stranded but let’s just hope the uninhabited island has some strong internet connection to begin with! But don’t worry. Not all is lost. In the very most remote of chances you think you might find yourself stranded on an island, perhaps watching Sounan Desu Ka beforehand might do the trick. I hope. A group of girls has been shipwrecked on a deserted island and are forced to do whatever they can to survive. From collecting water and catching food, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Not the paradise kind of private beach island life they’re hoping for.

Episode 1
A plane crashes. It seems only Asuka Suzumori, Mutsu Amatani, Shion Kujou and Homare Onishima survive and are stranded on a rock. Only Homare has survival skills since her dad taught her before and they often got stranded on trips around the world. So this is no stranger to her. As we can see, Homare puts her survival skills to good use. Like catching a flying fish, beating it up while wrapping it in her shirt and then squeezing it to drink its blood as liquid! I think the rest will pass. Still thirsty? Homare offers a ‘fresher’ alternative of peeing in your mouth! They continue waiting and still no sign of rescue. Next morning, an island across is visible. They start swimming. Getting exhausted? Nothing moves you faster when you see shark coming! Luckily Homare throws an old handphone battery that has the shark turn around due to its sensitive nose. With Mutsu feeling a bit dizzy, Homare believes their best action now is to find water. She explains several methods but it either takes too long or they don’t have the equipment. It’s not going to rain either. Hence their only option is to find a water source. With Mutsu’s mouth feeling dry and she can’t produce saliva either, Mutsu kisses her to transfer some of hers! Eww! Worse, Homare just ate a flying locust and its leg got stuck in that kiss. Mutsu’s first kiss… A taste of locust…

Episode 2
Homare and Asuka head into the jungles to find the water source. Ironically, Asuka being the athletic one, she tires out and is complaining? I guess she wasn’t really trained for this kind of environment, huh? But soon, Asuka starts to get dizzy. Homare hurriedly digs for water on a soil that is damp and lets her drink. Best water ever! Until she realizes she is drinking this ‘filtered water’ from Homare’s sock! Meanwhile Shion tries to find something for Mutsu to rest. She stumbles into this coconut. Mutsu gets the hint she wants to be praised for her efforts. It took some effort to break it open and from what I can see, Shion drank it all. So to make it up for her, if she pees, she wants Mutsu to drink it? Not outrageous but I don’t think the girls have gone crazy being stranded… They are given a respite when it rains. With their water source secured, the next step is to build a shelter. But since the rest are complaining about being tired and hungry, Homare goes hunting. She caught some cicadas, sea urchin, seaweed and some mysterious jar. Rock-scissors-paper to see who gets what. Shion gets the sea urchin and Mutsu gets the seaweed. Asuka thought it is some jam in this jar but whatever it is, it’s expired. Tastes bad… Homare is willing to share the cicadas. Did you lose your appetite after seeing he decapitate it? Tastes like shrimp? But Asuka passes since Mutsu shares her seaweed. With night fall, they have to sleep in the open. That’s why Homare told them the importance of making a shelter. But I guess sleeping underneath the open sky isn’t too bad either. The girls are surprised that Homare can instantly fall asleep. Well, she’s done a lot for you girls today.

Episode 3
It’s one thing being tired. It’s also one thing to be useless. But it’s totally another thing to throw a tantrum just because you are hungry and wanting Homare to get some food. Oh Asuka, you looking like a spoilt brat. Luckily for her, Homare intends to head into the jungles to find more vines so Asuka tags along under the pretence to help but also to look for food. When Asuka pulls out some sort of potato from the ground, Homare doesn’t think it is a good idea to eat it. Bugs are okay and not potatoes? Hence Homare employs a patch test to see if it’s edible. By rubbing the thing on your body to see if it has any sort of reaction. She rubs it on Asuka’s ass. Suddenly she feels numb. Definitely poison… She is still scared of eating cicadas but once she gets the hang of it, yeah it tastes like shrimp. Shion hopes they could build a shower next since hygiene is important. Don’t want to have those rescue workers think they stink? Homare builds one but it is out on the open. Hey, at least nobody else is watching on this uninhabited island. Works fine until they broke the mechanism. Homare takes Mutsu to hunt for shellfish. Mutsu thought hermit crabs are inedible but on the contrary, Homare demonstrates by ripping off its shell and devouring this ‘delicacy’! They have caught a few shellfishes so Homare demonstrates how to start a fire and use the sun and rock to make it like an iron plate. Shellfish tastes so good that they can’t stop this ‘buffet’. Don’t worry, if you still have stomach for more, here are hermit crabs. Bon appetite!

Episode 4
Once you try it, you’re sure to love it! See? Hermit crabs tastes good to. Uh huh. Tastes like shrimp… But will this be enough? Don’t worry, Homare believes it is time for them to catch a real animal for its meat. Uh oh. Real survival begins… Based on the footprints, she believes there are squirrels nearby. Hence she explains some of the traps they will be making to catch one. When a toad pops up, Asuka uses her skirt to catch it. Careful not to touch some of its skin as it contains poison. Because Homare says they can only eat its legs and to leave the rest behind, Asuka gets worried. You mean she has to kill this little guy? Like, how? Oh sh*t… Thus she pretends to slip up and let it escape. No frog meat tonight… Homare so disappointed… Homare then spots a burrow. It is believed to be European rabbits and hence they will be changing their target to them. She creates a snare trap and to see whether it works, Asuka volunteers to be bait. Works like a charm. Why does it look like she wants to flash her (rabbit print) panties? As Mutsu and Asuka set up similar traps near other burrows, Mutsu notices a branch too high to be placed for their trap. Therefore she improves and uses a log as a counterweight. They fear it might not be as speedy as the original so Asuka tests it and it works perfectly.

Episode 5
So Shion is b*tching that the catch will have to wait for a few days, they have to eat the same shells and hermit crabs again? Homare thinks up fast that she’ll go collect some turban shells and this delights Shion since she loves eating them. Homare and Asuka dive in to catch some but they didn’t find any. So what did Homare bring back? Starfish! Oh Shion, you still not happy? Until she realizes some bruises on Homare’s hands that Asuka explains she tried to get some oyster but its shell was hard and she accidentally scraped it. Shion realizes her selfishness and eats the starfish. Better than any turban shell! Yeah, be prepared because that’s the menu for tomorrow too as Homare catches more! When the gang goes to check on the trap, looks like everything is still in place. Then they see smoke from the beach. Alerted, they think it’s some rescuer. But when they return, they see Shion in a daze. She thought she saw a ship. She starts crying and apologizing. Keep it strong, girls. Can’t have a domino effect of everyone breaking down. Next morning when Homare asks Shion to come with her, the latter thought she is going to be punished. But Homare takes her to a place where there is low tide now. They dig up wrasse fish that buried themselves in the sand while they sleep. That night they have a mini celebration. Got to have some fun sometimes, right? Here’s to their safety and health. Next day, Asuka and Mutsu check on the trap. Looks like something is caught in it… It’s still moving so the thought of killing it swiftly lingers…

Episode 6
Indeed there is a rabbit caught in the trap. Can’t call for Homare or it might run away. Mutsu offers to kill it. WTF?! How could she miss hitting its head at this distance?! I know she isn’t athletic but the way this plays out, like as though the rabbit is making a fool out of her! WTF Mutsu giving up and crying?! Truly the rabbit has taken her for a ride. So Asuka sums up her courage and does the honours. Relaying the good news, Homare now explains how to remove their organs but first they need to create a knife using a stone. Mutsu wants to try skinning it to make up for her failure. Hang in there. Let’s hope this bloody mess doesn’t traumatize her even when Homare is guiding her. Yeah, biology class wasn’t like this… On how to cook the meat, Shion has an idea of some French dish she once experienced, lievre. Well, with some improvisations, they can make something close to it. After deboning it, they wrap it in some plant leaf, cover them with rocks and twigs to grill them. And of course when it’s done, it is the best meat they’ve eaten ever since. How does it taste like? WTF tastes like chicken?! Shouldn’t rabbits taste like rabbits?

Episode 7
Homare thinks of exploring the island but only needs one of them to accompany her. Hence it becomes a ‘battle’ to be picked. Choose me! In the end, Mutsu is chosen and this leaves the rest devastated. After exploring for a while, they stumble into a dock. Excited at first, Homare examines it and realizes it has been abandoned a long time. For now, they make camp. Mutsu asks why she was chosen and to her surprise, Homare views her as most suited for survival as she has a deliberate nature and adapts quickly. So to say the others aren’t so fit for survival and are going to die? Then they hear rustling in the leaves. Turns out Asuka and Shion followed them. Can’t leave mommy behind, can they? They make a bed using a net. A bit cramp but it’s all they’ve got. They think of naming this island but definitely reject Mutsu’s idea of using their initials because it sounds like ahomushi (idiot). Next day, they continue exploring the island and while Asuka finds pears, Shion claims she has found a house! Well… A dilapidated house. Homare explores it and is excited to find a broken pair of shears. The rest cannot understand why she is so happy so she spells out how its metal parts can be modified into a knife. Makes survival a whole lot easier. Then they climb to the highest point to get a feel of the island. Well bad news, water, water everywhere. But something catches Homare’s eyes. There’s smoke nearby…

Episode 8
Calling out if anybody is there… No response. When they head down to the spot, the smoke is actually vapour from the hotspring! Quit wasting time analysing about somebody was here building these unnatural formation of the rocks so as to make the hotspring because it’s time to soak in and have fun! Not sure if the rocks or water is illuminating because we can sure see the naked girls clearly! Of course, important parts strategically blocked off… When the water temperature gets warmer, they realize something is wrong. Too late as the waves engulf them. Luckily they are washed ashore as Homare theorizes this area is only visible during low tides. Later Homare wants to go down a narrow chasm because there are thick ropes there. This spot was once used to anchor boats. Testing the water depths and all, she finally jumps in to grab the rope. Then she uses the chimney style movement to climb her way out. When it starts raining, the girls quickly rush back to camp. Because of the heavy downpour, their tent couldn’t do anything and the fire is put out. Asuka tries to maintain optimism by heading to sea to find something since she is already wet. Suddenly lightning strikes the far end of the ocean and she got electric shock! Thank goodness she is still alive. With the heavy thunder and lightning, the girls wonder if they should move into the forest but Homare points out it is more dangerous as the lightning could strike a tree. The solution is to build a 4m lightning rod and take shelter at precisely 45 degrees away. While Homare builds it, the girls are on the verge of breakdown from the incessant flashes. But thankfully the storm is gone. Asuka thinks of dipping into the sea again but why did she get electric shock again? Jellyfish. Ah… Homare applies sea water to relief some of the pain. Shion and Mutsu realizes how everyone has got it hard and promise to use this as a lesson to be mindful and not to make life already harder than it is.

Episode 9
Homare is excited as she manages to finish creating a couple of knives. Because of the UV, Asuka’s skin is peeling so they ask Homare if there is any natural sunblock lotion. As she was just finishing hunting squid, squid ink provides excellent sunblock. Unfortunately it is only enough for 1 person so Mutsu won the bet and got it. But don’t despair, Homare grinds the seaweed for its mucus and it might not be as effective as squid ink, it’s still better than nothing. Shion accidentally drops and splashes it all over Homare. Asuka doesn’t want it to go to waste and starts rubbing her body against hers. Our yuri fanservice for this episode. With Shion pouting that she is left out, Homare hands her dried squid liver. Not as effective either but still, better than nothing. Too bad it stinks like hell! When Mutsu got bitten by a horsefly, Homare treats it with sap from dandelion. Shion and Asuka argue to make a hammock or a drying rack. In the end, because embarrassment is next to nothing in nature, they made a hammock instead. At least they can sleep easy. With all the stinking business, Shion wonders if making perfume is possible. I think Homare didn’t mean anything bad because she says at this point all of them stinks! It just means their smell got used to the bad odour over time. When the girls praise Homare for her great survival skills, it Homare attributes them all to her father so the girls think she has daddy complex.

Episode 10
Homare makes a raft with bamboos to help transport heavy stuffs. When Shion is lazing around, a bee ‘visits’ her. This scares the hell out of her but Homare realizes this means there must be a hive nearby. She tracks the hive to a dilapidating log. I don’t think she is trying to scare the girls about people dying from bee stings but hey, no pain no gain, right?! First, Homare uses a makeshift torch to smoke out the bees. Then they lie low so as not to provoke it. You think the bees aren’t mad after their hive has been set on fire? Once the timing is right (don’t want the honey to melt), Homare goes in to cut them. With the bees still buzzing around, the other girls get scared but Shion sums up her courage after seeing some mild bee stings on Homare and helps to take the honey. In the end, you can say it is sweet victory. Next day, Homare and Asuka return from fishing. Shion insists she wants to go fishing too. As she cannot dive, Homare lets her fish from atop a raft. After a while, Homare realizes the current has been gaining speed. To her dismay, Shion is nowhere to be seen. Even getting on top a high rock, screaming her name, there is no sign of Shion anywhere. Oh no. Truly lost? Shion has been so engrossed in fishing that she didn’t know she has been drifted far out to sea.

Episode 11
When the rest finds out that Shion has been drifted, Asuka becomes upset. How can Homare lose her when she was supposed to be with her? Hey, even monkeys something fall off trees. But Homare isn’t giving up yet so she has them help her build a raft. She can still catch up and find Shion before sunset. Homare remembers papa’s words to always think about her own safety despite having others around. Because this might put others at risk too. But Homare isn’t going to let that lesson lose a life of a friend. At this point Shion realizes she is lost. She can’t panic and cry. Got to save those moistures. She spots an island ahead but when she lands, it is just some big rock with no life. She tries to stay calm but at this point she is feeling dehydrated and negativism is setting in. Meanwhile Homare fears she might have passed Shion. Due to her limited vision of the horizon, she remembers daddy’s method on how to measure height without any tools. So this high jump acrobat move has her spot that rock island. And in good time she finds Shion cowering underneath the shade of a rock. Shion starts crying. Uhm, is it a good time to waste moistures? And she’s complaining Homare took so long?! Jokes aside, it’s time to go ‘home’.

Episode 12
In her haste to go rescue Shion, Homare forgot to bring any water. At this rate they will dehydrate before they get back. Shion mentions about a cave she found. However as Homare examines, despite having fresh rainwater, it is contaminated with bat dung. Drink it and you’ll get sick! However she has an idea as they prepare their raft back. As they paddle back, it seems the water with bat dung is left out to dry in hopes the UV will somewhat sterilize it a little. As they are really dehydrating, they still can use this contaminated water. As the colon absorbs water and they can drink it without going through their mouths. Have you guessed it? Through your anus!!! Not joking!!! It’s either you lose your dignity or your life! She’ll put some of the water in her mouth and blow it through her anus!!! OMFG!!! Worse than a horror rape scene, Homare does the unthinkable on Shion! That’s only half of it because now Homare wants her to do it to her! This is the worst day of Shion’s life. But she survived… That’s even weird sh*t porn for today. At sunset, they finally reach back thanks to Mutsu and Asuka’s smoke from cooking. Shion couldn’t wait to reunite with her friends and swim ashore to hug them. That night they have a great feast. Next day, Homare teaches them how to ensnare a wild boar. Come on, girls. Cover your hands with wild boar dung!!! The trauma for Shion doesn’t stop… And then they let Shion be the one who trips over it to see if it works. Works like a charm. Lastly we see Homare’s papa on his boat on his way to rescue her…

Cast Away: Girls Versus Wild
Well, this just in. Looks like I know nothing at all and I better have somebody like Homare to hold my hand if I ever find myself in a similar situation. I don’t know if I can really ever do that anus hydration thingy if I were in the same situation. Really, that scene was really the most disturbing and so full of cringe for those who are not used to it. I really hope I don’t have to go through that… And with the girls looking like they’re making the island their home and learning better skills as each day pass, the cliff-hanger of Homare’s papa coming to rescue her, if he does so will they really want to leave their ‘second home’? That will be a survival story for another time. If they manage to put out another season, that is.

While the survival skills and techniques are interesting to watch, I have a feeling that they are just very basic. After all, even though there is this intention from this anime to enlighten and teach others about survival techniques, you can’t go in too deep and technical otherwise it will bore and confuse the hell out of many viewers. Especially like yours truly who know nuts about surviving and this might turn this series into one ‘scary’ experience. Oh damn, you need to know and do so many things just for that little thing? I’m going to pass this island survival thingy. Yeah… Also, this series is only 12 minutes or so and I can see why they want to keep it short and at the same time cram as many interesting survival situations and techniques into the dozen of episodes. This is after all still anime and the main point is to entertain. Otherwise it makes zero sense to have 4 cute girls as our protagonists here, right? In spite of everything we have seen the girls go through, it feels that nature has still been kind on them rather than unleashing some sort of fury that would have threatened their lives at every moment. Like as though this island is made for beginner and amateur survivalists…

While the plot of this series is to see the girls survive the island and to improve their daily survival, a lot of other things when you think about it doesn’t make sense. Like as though it was just all for plot convenience to set up this setting. For instance when the girls shipwrecked, where are the bodies of their other classmates? Unless you tell me that they are the only ones who were on a trip. Even so, where’s the pilot’s body? Oddly in the first episode I have already been wondering about stuffs like this because I figure if you want to be realistic, might as well think of this gruesome reality too. I know they don’t want to stay depressed or even think of their dead, but it’s like those dead classmates never existed at all. It’s like, oh there are only 4 of us who survived this. Okay. Let’s start surviving this island together. See what I mean? Plus, this is sea water so the bodies should float? Amazingly no corpses have been drifted on the island they have been. Assuming that the girls have been stranded on this island for days and weeks, why has there been no search and rescue operation to look for them? Unless the pilot went off its course so the rescue team is searching in the wrong place. Hmmm… Now where have I heard this plot before? With no rescue team means it beats the girls having to bum around and wait to be rescued and hence why we see them doing things to survive.

And then here is another mind boggling part: How come the girls still look fresh and especially their clothes still looking good and new? Remember what I said about this series trying to entertain us and probably targeting a certain demographic segment? Uh huh. It just feels unrealistic that even though there might be some natural solutions to help keep the moisture and some skin care, it won’t be as good as those manufactured ‘poison’ that those international brands produce. In short, the girls here look amazingly cute and clean despite being stranded on the island for days and even weeks. Their school uniforms look amazingly neat and spotless despite being exposed to the elements. No torn or ripped parts of their shirt or skirt. Even more mind boggling how Homare has used her shirt to drain blood and I can’t believe it is still as white as snow after she somehow cleans it. If this was true in the real world, serial killers and murderers would have gotten away with it so easily. Therefore sometimes looking at the girls who are clean and fresh makes me feel like they’re doing one big advertising for the island… Get what I’m saying?

Character wise, I guess there is nothing much to say about them. You can easily pigeonhole them as the athletic tomboy (Asuka), the studious megane (Mutsu) and the prideful oujosama (Shion). Thankfully with one of them being a master survivalist, the rest get to extend their lives longer instead of game over the moment they crashed. It is that ironic feeling that everything you learnt in school is not really applicable here. But let’s face it, how often are we going to live in the jungles or somewhere without human civilization? So it is pretty expected that Asuka, Mutsu and Shion know nothing about survival. Occasional b*tching and whining I guess it is acceptable seeing that they are unfamiliar with their new surroundings and it is a good thing they learn and help out since trying to forever be a spoilt brat will only get you dead (by nature) and not sit well with us viewers who might be trying to find somebody to hate. I dunno. It’s just human nature, I guess?

But I suppose this means with their undies in good condition too, it gives a great excuse to see them in it while they get wet and do water activities. Damn, that sure sounded ambiguous but whatever. Viva our little fanservice here! And because the trio are noobs in surviving, some of their slip-ups are made to look like jokes and punch lines. Ah well, gotta have some fun too, right? It’s a good thing they have Homare as company rather than, say, Wilson! Cute blonde twintail beats bloody hand printed ball any time!

Homare being the ultimate survivalist and somewhat saviour of the pack, it feels like God is trying to play a cruel trick on her by testing what she has learnt from her father all these years. Many of the techniques she employs here are thanks to the lessons and flashbacks while travelling with her dad that are scattered throughout the series. Hence it also becomes one of the mind boggling points of the series: Why the heck was papa bringing a young girl along with him through his travels around the world? I don’t know what job papa does that has him travelling to all the dangerous parts of the world, but why bring a young Homare who could have been in elementary school then with him? I am making a big assumption that mom is dead and it’s the only reason why a child is not stopped to go on such journeys. And of course thanks to the travels, she has gained a lot of valuable knowledge on surviving. For some reason she stopped travelling and entered high school. I am also assuming this happened because dad is dead and she thought of experiencing the high school life before she gets too old to be a high school girl. And then this happened. Perhaps the ultimate test to see if she was really paying attention to daddy. From what we’ve seen, it is sure paying off.

On a side note, thanks to my limited Japanese vocabulary, initially I wondered why this series was named so. Only after a simple Google search did I realize it was appropriately named and it can be used as pun too. Hence the official English title of “Are You Lost?” is appropriate (sounan means lost). This also offers a play on word and pun because “Sou nan desu ka” technically means “I see…”. Therefore when Homare shows and wows us with her techniques cue this line which could actually mean both. Pretty neat, huh?

Art and animation feel pretty okay as we have cute looking girls and for thankfully the island life isn’t harsh enough that the girls suffer some kind of horrible injury or tragic fate. Yeah, nobody gets paralyzed or suffer from some sort of illness! And with cute girls making look like it is so easy and fun living the island life, better think twice and do your research after research if you really want to try this out. This anime is animated by Ezola whose only other anime at this point was Happy Sugar Life.

I didn’t want to make any issues with the voice acting part but I want to point out that Homare’s character at first I didn’t think she was suitably voiced. Not that Mao Ichimichi (Shion in Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken) did a bad job but rather my perception (and most of us) of blonde twintail girls. I was expecting her to have this high pitch squeaky voice like what many blonde twintail girls do. Yeah, bonus points if she is a tsundere. Therefore having Homare’s voice as the calm and lower pitched, it just feels, uhm, not right. Had Homare looked like any one of the other girls, I would have agreed to the casting but I guess the producers want us to cast away that stereotypical views of blonde twintail girls. Yeah, it all doesn’t matter when it comes down to survival, huh?

The other casts in this small line-up include Azumi Waki as Shion (titular character in Oshiete! Galko-chan), Hiyori Kouno as Asuka (Kazusa in Araburu Kisetsu No Otomoe-domo Yo), Kiyono Yasuno as Mutsu (Megumi in Saenai Hoeroine No Sodatekata) and Akio Ootsuka as Homare’s papa (Kyouraku in Bleach). Seriously, the more I hear the voice of this guy, the more I keep thinking he is the late Unshou Ishizuka! Remember Ahomushi? If the island didn’t get named by them, then they could have formed a band in an alternate reality and sung the opening theme of this song, Koko Wa Doko! Another one of the weird aspects of this series is how lively this song is. I don’t expect it to be dark, dramatic and edgy but for a show about survival, seeing the girls having fun doing survival stuffs in the opening credits, it just feels really weird. Yes. Really, really, really weird. But I think we need all the positivism and motivation we can get by staying on this deserted island. The ending theme by Kiyono Yasuno goes to a slower beat. Ikiru has this slight feel that it is a marching band song but it’s not that bad either.

Overall, this series can swing both ways. It is entertaining because you get to see the girls doing basic survival tasks and if you like a bit of ecchi, having them doing certain stuffs in their underwear gives a natural excuse for this. However the series can be a drag because it is basically the girls doing basic survival tasks. Rinse and repeat but shown in a different way. And the saddest part is that I would forget all the lessons that Homare has thought us once the next season rolls in. Heck, even by the next episode I would have forgotten the important survival lessons of the previous! Looks like I’m not cut out for surviving in the wild. Anime had better not die out and force me to go outside and live a normal social life! Oh the horror! I don’t need that kind of survival skills, please!!!

After that rather tepid and lukewarm alternative spinoff story that was Gun Gale Online, I guess Sword Art Online (SAO) fans can now be happy that the next season of SAO would be continuing and adapting one of the more popular and important arcs of the series, Sword Art Online: Alicization. Yes, having an SAO series without the main character Kirito seems so off and weird. Even weirder for me was that I was having a hard time trying to pronounce or remember Alicization. I don’t know how, but I keep initially remembering and pronouncing it as alkalization. Heh. I thought with all the toxic acidity of online players in VR, maybe some sort of neutralization and alkalization is needed to bring things back to order. Damn, I’m getting side-tracked here…

Episode 1
In this 1 hour special, we start off seeing a young Kirito and Eugeo taking turns trying to chop down a tough cedar tree with their axe. Not making much progress. And this is all the mark that Eugeo’s 6 generations of chopping have left! They take a break when Alice comes by to give them her lunch. Because Kirito suggests getting some ice so their food can last longer, they believe the End Mountains hosts the coolest ice. However there is talk about breaking the Taboo Index in which the Integrity Knight of Axiom Church will whisk you away. Then there’s this legend of this hero, Bercouli who entered the End Mountains and faced off with a huge white dragon guarding treasures in the cave. He defeated it with a sword. Next day, the trio make their way into End Mountains. They stumble into a cave and find that the legend was indeed true. Dragon bones, treasures and a sword too heavy for the kids to lift. They aren’t here to steal loots and got the ice they want but realize they forgot which exit they came from. I guess it’s not down to guts, huh? Too bad it’s wrong as it leads them to Dark Territory. They see an Integrity Knight defeating a Dark Knight. The latter somewhat hypnotizes Alice to cross over to the Dark Territory. Although her fingers only touched the Dark Territory, this violation is detected. The trio return home without realizing the consequences they will be facing. Because tomorrow, an Integrity Knight flies into town and arrests Alice. She will be questioned before being executed. Kirito wants to save her but is of course no match. Eugeo is paralyzed in fear while the villagers hold down Kirito and they can only helplessly see Alice being whisked away. Kirito wakes up from this simulation world but doesn’t know why he is crying.

We now see Kirito and his harem trying to take down a group of formidable PK players in GGO. They manage to give our heroes the slip and escape with minimal casualties. Later Asada talks to Kirito about entering the next BoB tournament so they can face off with the legendary Subtilizer. With Asuna joining them, the topic changes to Kirito’s part time job as a tester of some virtual game. Asuna is worried because it is taking a toll on his health. This job that Kirito is doing is a new next generation full dive system developed by Rath. The thing is, to keep the secrecy and anonymity, any memories created in the VR world will be erased. Though he is certain it doesn’t put the stress on the brain like previous models. Then they talk about where the soul of a human’s body resides. Not really getting into all these terms now but that’s what Fluctlight sounds like. Hence the Soul Translator (STL) from Rath supposedly reads that Fluctlight. Yeah, it’s getting heavy so I’ll skip this. Anyway, Kirito’s experience was that he couldn’t tell he was in the VR world. Like as though it is a realistic dream. The only thing Kirito was told that the project is called Underworld. Like the one from Alice In Wonderland? As they part, Kirito tells Asuna he plans to go to America where the technology for full dive is more advanced. He wants her to come with him. But of course. And yes she will. Oddly, they kiss in the streets. Nobody watching? Soon they are confronted with a guy who is the last surviving member of Laughing Coffin. The guys go at each other and both are struck down. However Kirito was injected with a strange serum.

Episode 2
Kirito wakes up in this familiar VR world. Strange. Can’t log out. He also retains his memories of the real world. He then sees Eugeo trying to chop down the tree. Kirito makes up a story that he has amnesia so Eugeo thinks he is a Vecta, those who got abducted as a prank by demons and then released. Whatever. Kirito tries to test if Eugeo is an NPC but nothing conclusive as he might be a test player with restricted memories. Eugeo will accompany him to town but he needs to finish his job of chopping this tree. Kirito hangs out with him and learns he has a childhood friend named Alice taken away for stepping into the Dark Territory. He believes she is still alive in the central city. With the other terms like Taboo Index, Kirito can’t help feel they sound familiar. After learning how to draw out the interface, he also learns Eugeo’s Calling (fate) to chop down this demonic tree because as long as it stands, they can never expand their wheat fields. And they’ve been doing it for 300 years and 7 generations! Chipping it bit by bit every day! Kirito tries to help out with his sword skill but as expected, no significant impact. At the end of the day, Eugeo brings him back but is confronted by this arrogant Zink who thinks he is going to be the best swordsman as per his Calling. Because he badmouths Eugeo’s pathetic Calling, Kirito shows his swordsman skills to shut him up. Kirito temporarily lives in a church run by Sister Azalia and he gets acquainted with one of the young nuns, Selka. Kirito ponders about the people of this world. Like as though they were born and raised here from the start. Are they copies of souls of newborns who were raised in virtual worlds? The only explanation is that they could be artificial Fluctlights.

Episode 3
Kirito’s goal is to go to central city but with no money, he believes he needs Eugeo’s help. So he hangs out with him and learns Selka is Alice’s younger sister and some high level sacred art that could stop life from decreasing. Of course this means you have to be a lot powerful like those high priests in Axiom Church. Eugeo then drags this heavy Blue Rose Sword from the legend to show it to Kirito. That Bercouli legend again. It is believed this sword is made from divine intervention. With Eugeo still regretting he couldn’t save Alice, Kirito tries to help using this sword to strike the tree. Will it make a difference? Just lost 1 HP… Maybe he strike at the wrong place so Eugeo believes if he masters this sword, he can cut down this tree faster. But for now, back to the old fashion axe chopping. Later Kirito talks to Selka since she is now learning the sacred arts in place of her sister. He thinks she likes Eugeo as she is sad he hardly smiles ever since Alice was taken away. Selka was never told the reason Alice was taken away so Kirito tells her. Next day, Azalia wonders if Kirito has seen Selka since it is unusual for her not to be around. Then when talking to Eugeo about this, it dawned to him she might have gone to End Mountains since Kirito said too much. They have to bring her back before Integrity Knight does. Kirito will take responsibility and take Selka to run away from the town since Integrity Knight will only fly in the next day. Then they hear Selka’s scream. In that cave, they see unconscious Selka being kidnapped by goblins. Sure they’re not going to rape her?! Eugeo was so worried he gave away their position. Now the goblins notice them, their big boss tell them to kill those white boys because they cannot be sold. So do they rape young girls first before selling them? Eugeo is paralyzed with fear.

Episode 4
Kirito quickly devices a plan to fight the goblins. He gets the big boss while Eugeo gets the small fries. Thank goodness for his grass light that keeps them at bay. Kirito heavily damages the boss but takes some serious damage too. This makes Eugeo feel the need to save him or it will be just like Alice’s case. So he recklessly swings his sword and gets a fatal strike in his guts. Ouch. Oddly, Eugeo somewhat remembers the promise made with Alice and Kirito during their younger days about dying together. Mad Kirito now turns into Goblin Slayer to decapitate the boss. The other goblins flee. Kirito frees Selka and wants her to heal Eugeo. She is unconfident and comparing herself she isn’t Alice. Can we just try? Selka and Kirito transfer some of their life force to save him. Kirito then hears Alice voice telling him she will be waiting for them at the central cathedral. In the aftermath, Eugeo felt strange about that promise since Kirito only just came, right? But it felt like he was there before with them. Kirito uses Blue Rose Sword on the tree since his skill levelled up after defeating the goblin boss. Damn, the tree takes a massive damage!!! Eugeo pleads to Kirito to teach him swordsmanship as he wants to go to central city to save Alice. He has been regretting that for every day that he didn’t do anything. He wants to be strong so as not to repeat those mistakes again. Under Kirito’s guidance, Eugeo finally cuts down the tree! The village holds a party and because Eugeo completed his task, he has the right to choose a new Calling. Without a doubt, he wants to become a swordsman. Later he talks to Selka about his goal to bring back Alice with Kirito. She wishes him well but promises all of them must come back alive. Kirito and Eugeo soon leave the village. It’s going to be a long walk…

Episode 5
Before we forget this simulation is real, we return to reality. After Kirito was attacked, Asuna sent him to hospital and he has been in comatose state ever since. Although his condition stabilized, he might have suffered brain damage when his heart stopped for a few minutes. He needs to be transferred to a facility with better equipment. That was also when Kikuoka popped up to suggest this facility where Kirito could get the proper treatment. However when Asuna visited, they were told Kirito was to have no visitors and the supposed ambulance that brought him here never actually arrived. Asuna and the girls discuss about Rath and STL and Asuna with Yui’s help detect the last known location of Kirito’s heart monitor. The trace stopped at a port warehouse. Heading there, Yui even checked the security cameras that a helicopter took off on that day. There is a possibility that Kirito was taken overseas. Remember how Kirito went all out to save her? Now it’s her turn to save him. Trying to remember what Kirito said that may have been related to his job. Hmm… Medicuboid… Rinko… Shigemura Lab… University in California… Speaking of Rinko, she receives an email from Kikuoka that needs her participation in a project. She also receives email from Asuna. Rinko and her assistant, Mayumi Reynolds arrive on a pyramid-cum-oil-rig platform dubbed Ocean Turtle. Heading inside the command centre, here is Kikuoka. He welcomes them to Rath and is happy the last of the 3 indispensable people for this project has arrived. The other being Takeru Higa of Shigemura Lab who is devoted to continue Kayaba’s work. When Kikuoka refuses to disclose the other indispensable person, that is when Reynolds reveals herself to be Asuka! Surprise! Did Kikuoka not feel suspicious why Rinko accepted his invitation so easily? Asuna found her email on Kirito’s PC and sought her help. She has a friend who could hack things and that’s why she easily passed all the background checks. Asuna demands to know where Kirito is now.

Episode 6
Kikuoka claims Rath is the only place with the technology to heal Kirito. Something about using STL and Fluctlight and generate new neural network. The purpose of this experiment is to create a bottom-up multi-purpose AI. All AI are created via top-down approach. You programme it and it learns from there. However its drawback is that they are unable to handle situations that they have not learnt. So by using bottom-up approach, they try to copy a human soul and store into this Lightcube as medium for a human brain. Despite successfully copying a human soul, it seems they missed something. He has Higa show them a clone of himself. The clone is panicking and thinking he is the real Higa and wants out of this dark space. In the end, the programme crashes. They have tried copying 10 souls but none of them could bear the thought they are just a copy. Hence the next answer is to raise them from the start. Thanks to virtual worlds and the Seed, they managed to create a small world and start out a small civilization using Rath staffs. Using acceleration, in 3 weeks, 300 years passed in the virtual world and its inhabitants grew to a massive 80,000 population. A governing body called Axiom Church created laws known as Taboo Index. All inhabitants obey the laws without question. This is when Asuna realizes the project is to create AI designed to kill. Asuna knows Kikuoka didn’t say this to Kirito because he wouldn’t have participated in this project. Even AI have rights? Sure, they lack physical bodies but they are the same as living things. Kikuoka understands her concerns but to him, 100,000 AI lives are worth far less than an actual soldier’s.

As for why he needed Kirito, he needed someone who has years of experience in moving in virtual worlds. There was a girl influenced by Kirito who broke the Taboo Index. Ironically she is named Alice, the same name as this project. She is a highly adaptive AI known as Artificial Labile Intelligence Cybernated Existence AKA ALICE. Their goal is to convert a Fluctlight into Alice. Welcome to Project Alicization. Asuna manages to see Kirito lying in the machine. She is surprised he has a personal nurse: Natsuki. Unlike Kikuoka who ‘deceives’, Natsuki is a real nurse. Just that she graduated from the SDF nursing school. Later Rinko confesses to Asuna about the atrocities she did to all former SAO players. Although Kayaba planted a bomb in her chest to force her to collaborate with that project, it was fake. If Rinko was ever caught, she would not be implicated. Flashback shows Rinko started liking this nerdy and scrawny Kayaba. Oddly they dated and it’s not like he was ever interested in her but never pushed her away either. When Kayaba became a murder suspect for that SAO incident, she went to his lodge to kill him but couldn’t. Asuna doesn’t bear any grudges towards Kayaba or her. She is grateful that she managed to spend time living with Kirito in that world. It’s one of her best days of her life. Even though Kayaba’s crimes are unforgiveable nor if amends could be made, they have to continue to face what they’ve done.

Episode 7
Back to the virtual world. 2 years have passed since Kirito and Eugeo entered the city of Zakkaria. They honed their sword skills, entered a sword tournament, won and are now part of the garrison. Under the tutelage of Sortiliena “Liena” Serlut, their skills are further honed. Kirito narrates he has learnt the mechanisms of this world. In short, if you are filled with confidence, this could be enough to give you some power boost enough to rewrite the laws of the world. Kirito spars with Liena and loses. He has never won against her. Even if she is this good, she has never won against the top student, Volo Levantein. She also believes Kirito couldn’t beat her is because he is hiding some sword techniques. As she will be graduating soon, Kirito promises to show her his greatest skill as her graduation gift. Later Eugeo feels worried because if Kirito’s memories returns, he might return to his world. Kirito assures him he will not go home even if that happens because they made a vow to become an Integrity Knight. They are only here now because of each other. Kirito sees a blacksmith, Sadore to get some special sword done. It is going to be costly but will give it to free if he could swing it. Of course he flawlessly wields it and gets it FOC. While he is practising with it, he falters and attracts the attention of Volo. Normally it is forbidden to train on rest days but he will overlook this because he too is guilty of doing that. But he won’t let him go because somehow he got a puny dirt on his shirt. So they’re going to settle this via duel with real swords. Stop-short matches aren’t Volo’s style but he gives Kirito the choice. In turn, he throws that decision back to him because he is the one being punished.

Episode 8
Liena warns Kirito that Volo’s family tradition means his sword absorbs the blood of his enemies. He plans to convert Kirito’s sword strength into his and feed on it. Kirito believes Volo also has the power of imagination. As they fight, Kirito sees his entire family giving him strength. Sure, Kirito has his too. His friends and harem. But the killer support is the cedar tree! Yeah, his imagination must be so strong that his sword grows bigger! Enough to withstand Volo’s strike. Kirito could have faltered had not Azurika (the dorm supervisor) stopped the match. Liena holds a mini celebration for Kirito in her room. She reveals that Volo’s family sword skills originally belonged to her family. But a distant family displeased the emperor and they were forbidden to pass it down. So they develop other weird sword styles but Liena is nonetheless proud to master them. She believes Kirito’s style is different because he doesn’t feel inferior compared to those trained in traditional styles. That night, a couple of noble bullies who aren’t fond with Kirito’s win, Raios Antinous and Humbert Zizek destroyed his little garden. Kirito is sad because those flowers don’t bloom here and he is trying hard to bloom them in foreign soil via his imagination. The flowers are also a great significance to him as it symbolizes Kirito trying hard in a foreign land, not knowing if he could ever return. Then a mysterious voice gives him hope to ‘feel’ the meaning of magic. What do you know? They revive! Wow. Truly the power of imagination. On the final exam day, Liena faces off with Volo in the finals and beats him. Did the power of imagination do its tricks again? She graduates as the officially top ranked student of the academy. Kirito and Eugeo became ranked 5 and 6 respectively after their advancement exam and are promoted to elite disciples. Yeah, they’ve got a couple of cute trainees of their own, Tiese Shtolienen and Ronie Arabel.

Episode 9
As Kirito mentions, you can infuse your sword with some sort of pride of feelings to make it stronger. So what goes for Eugeo? Alice. But of course. Eugeo continues his training and his mocked by Raios and Humbert. They offer him to teach him and Eugeo shocks them by accepting a lesson from Humbert. Eugeo uses his unconventional skills to dodge his attacks and Raios is forced to end the match with a draw. Raios offers his lesson next time but gets irked when Eugeo replies he doesn’t mind it now. Eugeo tells this to Kirito who thinks that they may be acting arrogantly because they are reluctantly obeying the laws of Axiom Church. As long as the Taboo Index is not violated, you can do anything you want. When Tiese and Ronie complain to their mentors about their friend, Frenica Cesky being made to do inappropriate chores by her mentor, damn it’s that Humbert name again. Then they talk about noble’s pride in which nobles must use the power and privilege they have to protect the weak. That pride is more important than any law or regulation. So the guys confront Raios and Humbert. Of course they play dumb over Eugeo’s accusations. So it seems Humbert who was reeling from the draw tried to train more. This means having his muscles sore and hence having Frenica to massage him during bath. Eugeo is so mad he wanted to strike them but thankfully he didn’t bring his sword. He manages to keep his cool but warns them if there is no improvement, they’ll consider asking the instructors to investigate. Raios dares him to do as he please. Later Kirito warns Eugeo that they may be targeting him. Because had he lost his cool and done something wrong, they may use it as an excuse as impropriety and punish him with maximum penalty. So stay cool always. Then Eugeo tells Tiese the actions he has taken. He also wants to apologize to Frenica since this incident stems from that duel. However Tiese isn’t in favour in setting them up to meet. Instead, she tells how she will take over as head of her family after she graduates. Then she will marry to a guy with similar rank or a rank above her. She fears her future husband will be cruel. Can we see where this is going when she asks Eugeo for a favour while being THIS close to him? She is confident he will represent their academy at the Swordsmanship Tournament and compete in the Four Empires Unification Tournament and get a high ranking. She didn’t say it but I’m guessing she wants him to marry her when he achieves that tall order. I hope he didn’t get the wrong idea by accepting this.

Episode 10
Kirito realizes their disciples are late for cleaning. Suspecting something amiss, he goes to check on them. As Eugeo waits, Frenica comes in to tell that she confided in Tiese and Ronie about yet another inappropriate order. They went to talk to him on her behalf and have never returned. Eugeo realizes they were the target and not him. He rushes to their room and demands their whereabouts. They lead him to their room in which they are tied up on their bed. Raios claims because they have acted inappropriately, something they can use the higher Taboo Index judiciary to punish them as their family noble rank ranks higher than theirs. Hence they are going to rape them before Eugeo’s eyes! Eugeo is paralysed due to the Taboo Index he is bound to. But seeing the poor girls scream and pleading for help, I guess something activated in his eye that ultimately explodes? This allows Eugeo to move enough to cut off Humbert’s arm. Raios now uses this excuse to execute Eugeo. Before he can decapitate him, here comes our Kirito to clash swords with him. So great their clash that the windows shatter! Eventually Kirito cuts off both Raios’ arms. The scumbag panics as he loses blood. Strangely, he experiences some weird digital glitch before dying. Our heroes rescue their disciples but some strange system admin detects, traces and reports this incident. Next day, Azurica heals Eugeo’s eye (you mean he didn’t get treatment after that?). However she is here to hand them over to the Integrity Knight. In a way, she gives them encouragement because Eugeo was able to break a seal that she was never able to break. Now he is able to go where she was unable to go. The duo are shocked to see the Integrity Knight picking them up. Alice?! Alice Synthesis Thirty to be precise.

Episode 11
When Eugeo tries to touch her, she beats him up! Do that again and you’ll die! With Eugeo very certain she is Alice, Kirito suggests playing along so they can get into the central cathedral. Before they depart, Tiese and Ronie are kind enough to give them their swords? Of course confiscated by Alice. She is kind enough to let them speak for a minute? At least they say their final goodbyes. We take a break and return to Ocean Turtle. Asuna is surprised a robot is moving around on its own. Ichiemon is created by Higa and fine-tuned by Rinko. From what I understand, they are trying to make an AI robot auto-balance like a human’s body to create a near perfect humanoid body. We return to the central cathedral. Kirito and Eugeo are imprisoned in an underground cell. Kirito wonders if this Alice was the real one, what was that cave incident Alice spirit whisper thingy all about? Could there be a spell that manipulates memories? They use the chains to destroy each other because they’re both the same high level, using them against each other is like wearing down the other’s life! It works! Video game logic! I guess they can escape easily because nobody escapes here before so no guards or even if there are, they’re sleeping. Making their way through the labyrinth garden, Eugeo who is still bent and determined on bringing Alice back hopes that bringing her back to their hometown would blow away the fake memories. This gives Kirito an idea on how he could retrieve his lost memories. They are confronted by an Integrity Knight, Eldrie Synthesis Thirty One who claims Alice is her mentor. She had foresight that they would escape and had him stationed here for the night. He will send them back to their prison but first he is going to exact punishment.

Episode 12
Eldrie is formidable with his whip as Kirito and Eugeo cooperate to fight on the same footing. When Eugeo finally recognizes him as Eldrie Woolsburg, the winner of the Four Empires Unification Tournament, Eldrie panics and denies it all. He believes he was summoned by Administrator from the heavens as an Integrity Knight. As Eugeo discloses more info about him to revive his memories, Eldrie then ‘stops working’. This funny prism in his forehead must be impeding his memories. Before they can do anything further, an archer Integrity Knight starts sniping at them. The duo make a run for it. A voice in Kirito guides them safely into a portal. She is Cardinal and the sole librarian of this great library. There are records of everything here from the start of this world’s creation. But the records here are all fabricated by the pontifex of Axiom Church. All to preserve their rule over the people. This makes Kirito realize that Cardinal is a system supervisor and that she is actually the Cardinal System. She might be the system supervisor but the one who holds all the admin privileges is no other than Administrator who is also her elder twin sister. Otherwise she would not be stuck in here. Time for some history. When this world was created 450 years ago when humans descended on this world (employees of Rath), these Gods taught their children how to live before logging out. But one of them was filled with malice and selfishness that gave rise to nobles and Axiom Church. When the first political marriage was done centuries ago, Quinella was born. She tinkered with the sacred arts that include killing cute forest critters and healing the people’s wounds. With the people awed by her godly powers, Quinella started to rule over them and as time as the city grow, so did the tower they built to worship her that she resided. To continue her rule so that no one would be above her, she wrote laws that became the Taboo Index. However she grew older and fragile but just before her death, she somehow managed to open a list that contains every command (it is rumoured she may have help from outside admins). This allowed her to restore her youth and be ageless. Quinella went a step further as she doesn’t want the Cardinal System to have equal authority with her. However she ended up fusing her soul with it. That is the reason for the existence of this system as if there is any slight irregularities that skews the balance, it will be soon detected. Hence the constant observation of ‘players’. Now that Quinella is no longer human, she seeks to continue ruling and preserving this real forever as both supervisor and rule, the pontifex of Axiom Church.

Episode 13
After 70 years of rule, Quinella realizes her soul’s capacity to preserve her memories had reached its limit. She thought of copying hers onto by overwriting a child’s Fluctlight. That child is Cardinal. But doing so means Quinella had made a mistake. Now there are 2 Gods wielding same level of authority. Both started fighting (more like redefining object structures). But with Quinella holding the upper hand, Cardinal fled. Only 2 places were beyond the reach of the Administrator: Dark Territory and this great library. She isolated herself and has been waiting for a chance to strike back. Quinella anticipated her ambush and assembled loyal and powerful followers known as Integrity Knights. The first one being Bercouli. Cardinal continued to observe the world but couldn’t figure things out and that’s why she wanted a human collaborator. She has pondered why would the real Gods (Rath) let this fake God (Administrator) rule? Her conclusion is that Rath doesn’t wish for people of this world to lead happy lives. They are observing how people will resist them and slowly tightening their load. Eventually the greatest trial will arrive. In short, the monsters in Dark Territory will come slaughter all humans and that day isn’t too far off. Quinella has underestimated them and thinks she and her Integrity Knights would be enough to stop them. Cardinal has resigned to the fact that Dark Territory will besiege this world. Hence her conclusion is that since she doesn’t accept Rath, her only way is to turn everything in this world into nothingness. She needs Kirito’s help to eliminate Administrator and regain all her authority. In exchange, he gets to name a few Fluctlights he wants to save and she will archive them before he returns to his own world.

Kirito wonders if she is a copy of Quinella, shouldn’t she have that selfish and greedy trait? In her senses, eliminating Administrator and normalizing the world is her desire. But there is something she has wanted to know for the last 200 years. So she just wants a hug? Oh yeah. She feels so satisfied that she’s crying. Weird. Kirito accepts to cooperate but will still find a way to save this world. Cardinal doesn’t know if this Integrity Knight Alice is the same as Eugeo’s childhood friend but she knows a way to stop this Synthesis Ritual. Just take out that prism, Piety Module. As you have guessed, it seals their original memories and makes you obedient to Administrator. Of course this means you need to get the original memories back to fill that void. It won’t be easy as it is locked in the highest tower of central cathedral. Eugeo worries to fight Alice because killing her would defeat the purpose of his goal. Hence Cardinal gives them a mini dagger. When stabbed, it links an irremovable connection to her and she will use her sacred arts to put her into sleep mode to buy them time to remove the Synthesis Ritual. She can also help get their swords back in the armoury but that won’t be enough to stop the Integrity Knights’ terrifying amplifying technique. She has them think of their sword and then comes up with a list of commands to remember? Whatever. Now she has told and given them everything she could, it’s time to step back into the real virtual world.

Episode 14
After getting their weapons, Kirito realizes Administrator doesn’t intend to create an army but kept all their weapons here. It could be the pontifex is the one with the least faith in the church’s authority. They are attacked by that archer Integrity Knight. Kirito uses all the defence he’s got to defend against his flames. Once Kirito is out, Eugeo strikes a couple of lethal blows to defeat him. After archer dude learns about their excellent skills, he tells them there are other Integrity Knights waiting for them with orders to kill him. He knows he will be stripped of his knighthood and frozen for failing his mission. To avoid that humiliation, he wants them to kill him. However when Eugeo learns his name as Deusolbert Synthesis Seven, the Integrity Knight who took Alice away, he becomes engulfed in rage. He would’ve killed him had Kirito not stopped him. Let’s not be ugly in killing a man who doesn’t resist. Kirito believes Deusolbert doesn’t even have memories of taking Alice away. He theorizes he got promoted for bringing Alice. But to maintain his fealty as an Integrity Knight, those memories are also sealed because it would be weird if the sinner he brought in showed up as an Integrity Knight. Kirito has him remember if there is a memory that no sacred arts could manipulate. There is one but he can’t really remember much. They let him be as they make their way up and plan how to counter the other Integrity Knights. Then they spot a couple of cute loli chicks watching at them. Hello girls. Want to come out and say hi?

Episode 15
Fizel and Linel are sisters in training. Since Kirito isn’t good with kids, he lets Eugeo handle this. They’re quite nice and cute until they get up close and stab them with their poison daggers! Damn, they’re Integrity Knights?! As they drag them up the stairs, they explain that they are born inside here and their mission was to help Administrator in an experiment with resurrection sacred art. Hence they kill each other. However many other experiment candidates either explode or become monsters after being resurrected. After many failed attempts, the experiment is called off and since the duo are the only survivors, they were promoted to Integrity Knights. But they are confined to only studying sacred arts so they got bored and wanted their own dragons and Divine Objects. They heard about the escapees and thought it would be a good idea to prove themselves. In the top floor consists of top Integrity Knights and their vice commander, Fanatio Synthesis Two. They plan to decapitate the boys so the witnesses can report to Administrator of their great feat. Suddenly Kirito stands up and stabs them with their own dagger. He was suspicious the moment they popped up and knew they couldn’t be just sisters in training due to their dagger gear. Hence he recited some poison dissolving art while Eugeo was attending to them. He won’t kill them but will let them see how strong real Integrity Knights are. Kirito faces off with Fanatio and while the latter brags about her sword made from sunlight, Kirito strikes off her helmet, revealing her female face. She gets agitated thinking Kirito is shocked to discover that she is a woman and won’t fight at his full strength. Just like many others. However Kirito mocks her that she is the one being conscious of being a woman. He had his fair share of losing to female fighters and won’t hold back. Fanatio gets desperate as she summons some dangerous sacrificing move. Cue for Eugeo freed from his poison to summon his sacred art to frozenly bind her. But will it be enough? As he gets pessimistic about his chances, Kirito reminds him that hate will not defeat her. It is love! His love for Alice and those feelings aren’t in any way inferior to her justice.

Episode 16
In short, Kirito defeats Fanatio. After Eugeo uses some of his life force to heal him, Kirito still wants to save Fanatio. If she is erased, everything is for naught. Kirito gets desperate to scream for help. When no one replies, he uses the dagger on her. Cardinal takes Fanatio into her care. Now that they are free to make their way up, damn this cathedral even has a lift operator? She has been operating it for 107 years?! Oh Eugeo, it puts your previous Calling to shame. At the highest floor the operator could go, in this garden, Alice is seen resting. WTF she wants them to give her some time to bask in the sunlight? Probably an excuse so the boys could plot how to take her down. So when she is ready to fight, they have to improvise quick because her sword seems to be in perfect condition. They get blown away and even this is just a warning strike from her. Kirito challenges her to a duel as he asks her about her immense power that originates from a small tree. Something about how her sword was grown from a single Osmanthus tree when the Gods were building this nation. Hence as the oldest creation, its attribute is everlasting eternity. Kirito plays a little cheat as he restrains her so that Eugeo can freeze her. Unfortunately that is not enough as she manages to break out from it. Kirito tries to give another chance to Eugeo and strikes back. However the force is too great that the wall is blown open. The vacuum sucks out Kirito and Alice. Before Eugeo can go after them, the wall builds itself back.

Episode 17
Don’t worry. Kirito and Alice are hanging by their swords. Alice wants him to let go so he lectures her about Eugeo is going to go up and kill Administrator. Isn’t it her job to protect the pontifex? That’s why she must survive. In that case, why don’t Kirito let go? He mentions his mission is not to destroy Axiom Church but protect human territory from Dark Territory’s invasion. They talk about the arbitrary rules and laws set. For now they call a truce but once they enter the tower, she will slay him. As the walls are created with infinite regenerative abilities, looks like they’re going up. Using a chain to chain themselves together, Kirito then uses his skill to create wedges to climb up. Damn, this guy must be real strong and have a really good balance. Because Alice feels ashamed to do the same, WTF she has Kirito pull her from underneath. Is this her pride as an Integrity Knight?! Their goal is to make it to the 95th floor since there will be an open garden. Looks like this is going to take a while. We take a brief detour to Ocean Turtle. Asuna and Rinko notice a destroyer moving further. An agent is perplexed because it’s supposed to escort them. He calls Kikuoka about it. Back to the VR world, looks like they’re still a long way to go and it is going to be night fall. Noticing a ledge a few metres above, they can rest there. However, statues turn into monsters and start attacking them. Can they fight with their balance on the edge? Worse, Alice is scared?! WTF?! Mind boggling moment when Kirito uses all his strength to swing Alice up to the ledge. She then does the same to him. Now they can fight the monsters and easily slay them. Alice is baffled because these monsters are from Dark Territory and created by evil dark art users as soulless familiars called minions. How are these lined up on the most sacred walls of the human empire and how did they get past the detection of Integrity Knights? Could it be someone of high authority within the church placed them here? Because minion blood brings you sickness, Alice lends her handkerchief to wipe it off Kirito’s face. Have it clean and return to her before she slays him. Gee, how kind. Another excuse to delay slaying him immediately? Meanwhile Eugeo has reached the hot bath level. Don’t worry. Not sexy hot naked chicks. But a burly muscular guy with scars. Have fun…

Episode 18
It is no surprise he is the leader of the Integrity Knights and that legendary hero, Bercouli. Eugeo tries to take him on is blown away by his mysterious slash. Don’t worry. Bercouli won’t kill him since he didn’t kill Fanatio or any of the other Integrity Knights. He reveals his sword didn’t slash air but slashed the future! WTF?! Okay, more explanation how it was made by the Divine Object of a clock that existed since the start of this world. Eugeo prepares for his next attack as Bercouli guesses he is going for long distance attacks now. That’s what all his opponents think after seeing that move. Of course Eugeo thinks out of the box. He freezes everything and throws away his sword. This shock stuns Bercouli as Eugeo physically tackles him before getting his sword back to checkmate him. With everything slowly freezing, Eugeo’s plan is also to take themselves out because his blooming ice roses are sucking their life force. Eugeo then gets upset because Integrity Knights like him don’t remember their past and serve blindly to Axiom Church. Hey, you want to blame an amnesiac person for not remembering? Well, before Bercouli starts having a feeling those stories about him, then comes in this clown. Chudelkin the prime senator accuses Bercouli for treason because he did not use his other time ability that would have instantly killed Eugeo. Bercouli denies this and claims he has given everything he’s got while accusing the jester back he has deceived him. Chudelkin deep freezes him so that he would be reprocessed. However he feels Bercouli will not be needed anymore as Eugeo will be a better pawn. We take a detour to the awkward moment of Kirito and Alice spending the night together on the ledge. Kirito tells her about her sister. Starting to remember something? Yeah, keep denying. Despite he assures her everything he said is true, of course she doubles down and will slay him if there is a hint of deceit. She’s a really good tsundere, isn’t she?

Episode 18.5
Recap episode! What a better way to spend the night on the ledge and let time pass as Kirito tells Alice everything from start to finish. Although the visuals are 100% copy and paste (no new scenes, sadly) but at least there are some parts that Kirito narrates like a more summarized version of what has happened so far in their quest to bring back Alice. So now you believe? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Episode 19
Wait. Kirito narrating a quick recap on what happened to Alice? Yeah, I guess it’s for those who skipped that recap episode. Alice wonders why he is doing this and of course as we know, it is to protect this world from Dark Territory. He asks her back about the Integrity Knights’ chance in defeating Dark Territory and she remembers even Bercouli has his doubts but Chudelkin admonished him to think of a way. Despite nobles being corrupted, Kirito has an idea for the people to protect this world. With the large stash of weapons in the armoury, the Integrity Knights can help dispense their knowledge and skill to the people to have a fighting chance. They can at least be ready in a year. And it looks like Alice seems to have been taken in by Kirito’s words because she wants to see Selka and Kirito even promising to let her see her sister back at her village before she regains her memories. I guess she somewhat remembers since she is crying. When she decides to forsake her role as an Integrity Knight, her right eye starts to act up. She is in pain as Kirito finds a barcode in it. He believes if she tries to think differently and defy the church, this barrier will be activated. Empty your mind! Or your eye will explode! However there are things she needs to do and continues to defy. Meanwhile Eugeo finds himself possibly at the top floor of the cathedral. Who this sleeping beauty? A voice tells him to run away but too late, Administrator wakes up. She claims Eugeo wants to be loved and although he denies, the way she words everything makes him start to doubt. Like his mother who didn’t truly love him alone because she shared her love among her brothers. That’s why he hates them. Then there is that Tiese’s case where she was almost raped. He killed Raios because he hates him, right? But does Tiese loves only him? Alice? Yeah, she shows a past clip whereby Kirito and Alice are seemingly close to each other behind Eugeo’s back. With Eugeo in shock, Administrator goes in for the kill. She is willing to love only him. So… Sex = love? The deeper your love, the more she’ll bring him ultimate pleasure. Confused Eugeo hears to voice of Tiese, Alice and Kirito but are all soon blocked out. With Eugeo fully enchanted by her, she goes down on her. That’s right. Come into me! Deep inside me! Into eternal stasis! Damn, this could be good hentai dialogue!

Episode 20
Kirito and Alice manage to climb up to the balcony. Because Eugeo is not around, Kirito uses his System Call to locate Eugeo’s sword. Still below them. Entering the bath level, Kirito can tell the frozenness is Eugeo’s doing. Alice is sad to see Bercouli turned into stone but he is strong enough to break free at least his eyes and mouth to speak to her about some conspiracy and Eugeo being taken away by Chudelkin. As they move to the next level, Kirito asks about the senators’ role. Apparently they oversee the Taboo Index. If anybody breaks them, they send an Integrity Knight to deal with it. Kirito finds it odd since Administrator is giving lots of power to them to act as her proxy. Then they enter the room where all the senators are. Them inside chambers and monitoring everything. This is sure some freaky sci-fi. Then they hear Chudelkin screaming in agony in his room. Something didn’t go as planned? Alice confronts him and after he runs his mouth about her going to betray Axiom Church, he continues to reveal the sweet moment before Alice was synthesized. She was begging and crying and all. He revels just thinking about that. Alice then stabs him but it didn’t kill this fatty and instead he explodes into some red smoke to escape. Trying to chase him to the next floor, shockingly an Integrity Knight arrives to face them. Eugeo?! Alice finds it odd that the ritual can be done so quickly. Kirito is close to losing himself seeing his best friend in this state and ironically it is Alice reminding him that they need to stay calm and find another way to restore him or they will forever lose him. Kirito asks Eugeo if he remembers him. Nope. He doesn’t even want Alice or want to know anything about it. Administrator gave him what he wants and nothing else matters. I guess talk time is over. Time to see if the student can defeat the master.

Episode 21
Kirito and Eugeo clash with all they’ve got. No harm trying to awaken Eugeo’s memories by mentioning the important people in his lives. But did it work? Because Eugeo got a little sloppy. But then again, he could be trolling because after Kirito lets his guard down, he freezes them. He returns to Administrator who wants to give him his reward but first, she tries to adjust his Piety Module. Because she allows him to freely move, this chance allows Eugeo to completely break free and tries to stab her with the dagger. Too bad Administrator’s barrier is thick. She gives him a chance to redeem himself and forgive his sins if he destroys the dagger. Because her view of eternal love means eternal control, he mocks her as the pity one who has never been loved. Because Eugeo’s view of love isn’t something like a transaction or reward but something given continuously. With that, Administrator finds it a shame she’ll have to do force Synthesis on him just like how she it to Alice many years ago. Hearing that makes Eugeo mad. He charges at her and of course her protection is still intact. This is interrupted when Chudelkin comes running in for help. He thought of finishing off Kirito and Alice but he realized Eugeo fooled him and now they’re after his ass! Yeah, dumb joker just brought them back to this room. Eugeo is happy to see Kirito and Alice again but apologizes for giving in to Administrator’s temptation. Hence he thought he tried to atone for this himself. Don’t be silly. Kirito knew what he was thinking all along. Yeah, you sure had us all fooled. Maybe. Because Administrator senses something wrong with Alice’s logic circuits, she gives her a chance to say anything without any risk of reprimand. Alice explains how she has been disillusioned by everything, especially Administrator’s conflicting actions that would eventually bring harm to the human empire. This has Administrator thinking there is no error in the logic circuit and her Piety Module is still functioning. Could it mean she disabled Code 871 (the seal in her right eye) on her own? She then gives Chudelkin to redeem his honour by disposing off them. Chudelkin will gladly do it but pleads, to put it bluntly and crudely, he wants to f*ck her! Administrator agrees for a one night stand offer if he fulfils his mission. And we can see the power of boners makes a horny guy power up as Chudelkin summons a fire genie to burn them all!

Episode 22
While Alice distracts the genie, Kirito powers up and pierces Chudelkin. Well, that’s that. Easy. This spectacled allowed Administrator to collect some data and realizes that Kirito is a human from the other world. Kirito warns her about the impending invasion from Dark Territory while Alice derides her for planting false memories. Administrator knew of all the pain and suffering her Integrity Knights went through. That’s why she erased them all. It doesn’t matter what Alice feels, once she is synthesized, she will no longer remember or feel. Kirito then warns her about the other humans on the other side who holds absolute authority and they can eliminate everything just by the push of a button. But that is that same reason that Administrator reasons why Kirito has no reason to criticise the methods she uses. As she will not grovel before them or beg for her existence to continue, the only proof she needs is the control she exerts. Her feet exists to trample upon others. Hence she is going to show them the ultimate weapon that she needs to fight Dark Territory. One that is not even human. She combines all the divine weapons and turns into a killing machine named Sword Golem. All it needs to do is endlessly massacre its enemies. And it will taste its first blood as it stabs Alice. Being mad won’t do you any good because Kirito also gets stabbed. A voice tells Eugeo to stab the floating platform while Cardinal’s spider tries to hold it off. The spider dies but holds it off in time for Cardinal to pop out from her library and blast Sword Golem away. Damn, she has time to heal the wounded and even mourn the death of her favourite pet? Administrator must be real confident… So is Cardinal going to lecture this hollow fool about love?

Episode 23
Administrator claims Sword Golem isn’t just made out of weapons, they are actually humans. Hence Cardinal can’t technically kill them since they aren’t monsters. Administrator claims this is just a prototype. Once completed, she’ll use about 800,000 human lives to complete a perfect one and thinks it is enough to repel Dark Territory’s invasion. The source is the Piety Modules and all those crystals on the ceiling’s mural are actually it. Cardinal agrees to be defeated by her in exchange the lives of the trio is spared. Administrator blasts her several times. Gotta have some fun first, right? And then she is so kind so as to let them say their final goodbyes. Because Eugeo realizes what needs to be done. What he needs to do. From what I can see, he wants to be turned into a sword to fight Administrator because he realizes that she is resistant to metal weapons, the reason why his dagger cannot pierce through. Somehow Eugeo takes Alice’s Piety Module and then begins his transformation process. See, Administrator? Had you taken action earlier, this wouldn’t have happened. Too late as Alice staves her off until the process is complete. Eugeo the sword is able to destroy Sword Golem and gravely wound Administrator (because of the sword’s silver properties). But it comes with a price. Eugeo is left broken. Yes, his real body is split in half! Kirito falls into depression as Administrator heals herself. Fun time is over. Time to kill the last remaining brat. As she is about to slay him, suddenly Alice jumps in front to protect him. Damn, this awakens Kirito that he might repeat the same mistake so he gets even faster to draw his sword and protect Alice. Was Administrator that slow? With Alice passing out from exhaustion, it’s time for the final boss fight.

Episode 24
So for nostalgia’s sake, Kirito transforms into his trademark SAO uniform to fight. But Administrator knows how to counter all his sword techniques. Then time out. Because conveniently time for Kirito and Eugeo to talk things out and give the former motivation. Damn, do they have to make it look yaoi? Anyway, Kirito is now dual wielding with Eugeo’s sword. The fight continues. Administrator still b*tching she is the ruler of this world and how control = love. That’s why she loves everything. Can’t argue with that. Their swords are glowing red so this might as well turn into a lightsabre duel. In the end, they cut an arm of each other. Kirito still has an arm but Administrator no arms left! So how? Why, she uses her hair to strangle him! Damn, why didn’t she use this for multiple weapons? Was covering her modesty more important?! Anyway, Kirito dealt a fatal damage to her core. She’s all cracking up. Literally. She tries a tactical escape and hints she is bringing the fight to his world. But as she escapes, Chudelkin clings onto her, hoping to take her with him. She tries to shoo him away but he turns into a flaming ghost and burns everything. Damn! Is this how Administrator is taken down?! It’s like saying porn virus destroyed the main super computer!!! HAHAHA!!! With Administrator gone, Eugeo still isn’t dead. You mean he is still alive after being cut in half for so long? I guess this is good excuse so as to why Kirito can cry hard. Friendship talk thingy, blah, blah, blah. That scene whereby Kirito and Alice are supposed to be flirting behind Eugeo’s back? Actually they made a wooden sword for his birthday. See the power of context? Final goodbye. Time to walk their own path. Eugeo’s dead for good. You can tell when his body disappears. Kirito hacks into the PC and calls out to Kikuoka. Before he could blame the scientist, he hears a commotion in the back. Looks like military men are trying to storm into the place! With no time, Kikuoka tells Kirito to find Alice, take her to the World’s End Altar. Unfortunately the soldiers are trying to cut the power line. The Lightcube may be protected but the surge will hit Kirito’s STL. He’ll be fried. Kirito is confused when he hears Asuna’s name. Why is she here? Too late. The power cut. Kirito dying? WTF is this angel Asuna floating down to rescue him?! What a dramatic and confusing end…

Debugging Art Online
As we all can see and already know beforehand, there is going to be another season. Hence the final episode that ended in such a chaotic and dramatic way didn’t come off as surprising or disappointing. Well, maybe when the last episode suddenly ends. But after all, this arc is so far the longest arc and story in the original light novel series and since the anime is going to fully adapt its entire arc and being faithful to it, they are going to need a lot of cours. I suppose it is good that they decided to take a break after back to back twin cours since if they continued (it is rumoured that the total episodes for this Alicization arc itself is to be around 50 episodes), it could feel like a one long draggy affair. I mean, I have to say that the SAO series isn’t just for everyone. Not even for yours truly. Even if you’re a masochist and can binge watch the entire series, it is still good to go outside and stretch your legs, take a breather before resuming. Heh. Now I can see and understand why a few animes employ this tactic although sometimes my guts tell me it is for economic reasons.

Anyway, I’m not saying that this Alicization story is really interesting because you know like I’ve said, the SAO franchise isn’t for every Tom, Dick and Harry. For those who have reached this far into the original light novels, you have got to already be some sort of elevated status of a fan. I have been watching SAO since it was first adapted back in 2012 and I continued to watch all its TV series (but somehow skipped the movie, Ordinal Scale) in hopes I could understand something. But you know me. I didn’t really get a lot of the technical terms. This season’s Fluctlight and other technical terms I am still struggling to understand even as I type this blog. I feel that artificial soul is the best I could understand for what it means for Fluctlight but I am also pretty sure that isn’t as accurate as what the producers intended its definition to be. Then there are other commands inside the VR game like System Call and the likes which I am still blur in and going “What the heck are those again?”. Every time a character says those commands to open or change some options, it feels more like some sort of magical spell. You know, those charm lines you say when magicians and wizards cast a spell but only this time they sound like programming terms. The story for this season might seem long and dragging out but the way they flesh out the characters and other development, it is all not a waste of time.

Sometimes when I think about this whole Alicization story, it could have been actually another spinoff or an entirely different story not related to SAO whatsoever. It could have been a totally new story, make and change Kirito to another new character and voila, we’ve got ourselves a totally new series and anime. It doesn’t feel so much like an SAO series as the plot delves around 2 young boys trying to rescue a long lost childhood friend and at the same time trying to rid of the big ruler who rules over everything before the ultimate tragedy of the other side invades and destroys everything for good. And add some programming terms into their lingua. So if we substitute those programming jargons with classic magical ones, this could again be passed off as entirely another series. But of course it can’t be a totally new story altogether since Reki Kawahara, the creator of this series wrote this arc. But I guess it is better than those isekai animes of the main character being killed in the real world and reborn again as an overpowered one in another magical fantasy world! Uhm, can VR be considered isekai?

Just like how I said SAO felt weird without Kirito, it also feels weird without Asuna. Naturally as we can see from the flow of the story, Asuna is now reduced to a very concerned girlfriend waiting for Kirito outside while Kirito himself is probably having an adventure of a lifetime as he lays in coma. Hence the dynamic relationship now isn’t Kirito x Asuna but that of Kirito x Eugeo. It is a good thing that the series didn’t really show it in a way that makes it look like their friendship is going beyond just good friends and potential to be gay partners (f*ck the PC culture!). But just pure and hardcore friendship among the boys as swordsman. Perhaps the final episode was the closest into seeing that suggestive yaoi scene but it might just be our dirty minds. Kirito doesn’t feel so much as the sole star of this series as Eugeo too has his fair share of the limelight. Hence both of them being given enough time to develop and being fleshed out, by the end of this season, you’ll come to at least want to support them as a team instead of one over the other. Perhaps to a point that it would be weird if Kirito is without Eugeo and vice versa. Yeah, f*ck Asuna! At least for this season. So hardcore and amazing their friendship that you can see them in sync during the opening credits animation. Especially they have this weird sync of hand gestures. So weird but so cool.

With Kirito and Eugeo developing their (virtual) friendship, so much so that I never once think that they would end up in some weird romantic love triangle with Alice. Hah. It’s not that kind of series but you know me, I’m inclined to somehow think of that. I never thought of this until the series ended and it only makes Alice looks like as though she is a third wheel! Alice despite being the boys’ main reason and motivation to do what they do, she feels mostly like a side character and not really doing much. Partly because she has been brainwashed for most of the part as an Integrity Knight and even when she somewhat started to question her loyalty and then witnessed Administrator’s hypocritical actions, it’s not like there is a whole lot that she could do, right? After all, Kirito and Eugeo still continue to dominate as stars of this story. So sorry folks, no Kirito’s cheesy harem moments to get in the way of hardcore male bonding friendship here. Not sure if the next season will feature Eugeo since he is seen riding off into the sunset with loli Alice. Eugeo turning himself into a shota so that it won’t look like some pedo thingy might be the ending Eugeo and Alice need. Because that Integrity Knight Alice has may just be a vessel and several hints she may be a separate manner than the original loli Alice. But we’ll see when the next season rolls in.

The thought of Administrator playing God although she is just some programming entity, maybe her character doesn’t get me thinking a lot about her twisted thinking and personality but rather about the sentient life called reality. What if this simulation is actually what is happening in our lives in reality too? There have been debates about whether or not this reality is just a simulation and the things that occur after death that are beyond our imaginations. And what if there are higher beings than the one and only Almighty God we know? A lot of things about this simulated VR game can be drawn parallel to reality. Like God could just be another being because He has more access to shortcuts and other debugging stuffs that the rest of us don’t. Hence, administrator privileges. And God bringing Revelation and Doomsday to the world? That’s like you delete this game forever! Coming back to Administrator’s character, but think about it, can you blame her twisted thinking and definition of love because she is programmed that way? In a sense, it’s like as though she is written and setup to be an antagonist, don’t you think? And it was pretty ironic that a pervert took her down completely…

I wouldn’t say the action and sword fighting scenes are a masterpiece but the action bits are enough to satiate those who want to see some sword clashing battles. It feels like Kirito doesn’t have a lot of options what he can do here despite his Aincrad style somehow being carried into this world. His and Eugeo’s sword have their own unique properties and sometimes they seem like they pull off all the stops for that one exaggerated over the top moves but I guess it’s necessary just to show us how far they have come along and improved on their skills. And if you can’t hack your way through via programming, just hack and slash your way with a sword! I never expected to use both meanings of hacking here…

One of the superior elements in this season is that the art and animation are very good. If I should say, it is comparable to the standard that we see in Fate/Zero and Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works TV series. There are lots of high quality put into the visuals and it doesn’t disappoint. After all, A-1 Pictures have animated all its previous adaptations (except that alternate GGO spinoff) and it pays off here with an important arc like this one. Can’t disappoint fans of the series, can they? With a lot of hype that went about, it’s too big to fail! Thank goodness. So if the story is hard to follow, at least the high quality visuals may be something to give you the wow factor. There is also some CGI employed and it doesn’t feel disjointed. It feels seamlessly woven into the superior quality of the animation.

The first time when I laid eyes on Alice as an Integrity Knight, I thought she looked familiar. Isn’t that a more serious and zero perverted version of KonoSuba’s Darkness? Well, almost. Must be the golden armour. And more suspiciously, same seiyuu… Anyway, Administrator being a character who is mostly in the nude, I wonder if it is a lazy way out so as not to design some sort of fancy garb for her. After all, all of the Integrity Knights have their armour so shining and colourful that you wonder if they are a liability in battle. But as we’ve seen, they’re not so it looks like they look as good and nice as they are in their skills. But Administrator being naked all the time especially in the final stretch makes me feel weird. Imagine battling a naked last boss. Isn’t that distracting? Yeah, no backlash since Administrator is a smoking hot babe. Because remember that video game uproar for a naked final boss fight in Bioshock? Yeah, nobody wants to see a naked macho man monster boss… Isn’t it no wonder why Chudelkin brought Administrator down with him? Who could’ve resisted such beautiful pure naked body? Something to literally die for… And so it goes to show that something she deemed perfect became her undoing.

Voice acting is pretty fine too with new casts joining the line-up including Nobunaga Shimazaki as Eugeo (Yuno in Black Clover), Ai Kayano as Alice (Darkness in KonoSuba), Maaya Sakamoto as Administrator/Quinella (Ciel in Kuroshitsuji), Sakura Tange as Cardinal (Angela in Melty Lancer), Hitomi Nabatame as Fanatio (Reina in Circlet Princess), Kaori Ishihara as Tiese (Azusa in Hentai Ouji To Warawanai Neko), Reina Kondou as Ronie (Hana in Slow Start), Wataru Takagi as Chudelkin (Alaindelon in Beelzebub), Megumi Han as Liena (titular character in Mushibugyou), Hikaru Hanada as Deusolbert (Akihiko in Junjou Romantica), Ryuuichi Kijima as Humbert (Lenka in God Eater), Shuuhei Iwase as Raios (Yasutaka in Sankarea), Takeaki Masuyama as Eldrie (Ida in Nora To Oujo To Noraneko Heart) and Kaori Maeda as Selka (Mari in Back Street Girls: Gokudolls). The only new cast I recognized is Junichi Suwabe as Bercouli.

The first opening theme, Adamas by Lisa feels a bit chaotic. The frenzied pace of this rock piece tries to sound epic but to me it comes off as noisy. Except for the last bit which has a funky bass solo. That’s the only part I like. The second ending theme, Resister by Asca is also a rock outfit but it is toned down I think this one suits the pacing of the series better. The ending themes are slow rock with Iris by Eir Aoi being the first one and Forget Me Not by Reona as the second. I still prefer the former, though. There is a special ending theme for episode 19, Niji No Kanata Ni by Reona and this is quite a slow lovely ballad. Feels a bit disjointed from the series but I think this song is the one I like the most. I want to note that some of the sound effects are, how do I put it, deafening. Like when there is an epic magic sword clash or something, it’s like the bass and effect goes really loud and one kind. Are they trying to test my sound system or something?

Overall, not a bad season. An SAO series that isn’t your typical SAO, it feels both weird and refreshing at the same time. Infusing sword fighting with some computer programming setting? Strange indeed. After all, my experience with the first 2 seasons of SAO had this similar pattern in which the first big chunk of the series started off great but towards the end with its lesser arc, it disappoints. Remember that mediocre ALO that reduced Asuna into a damsel in distress for the first season and then the WTF Calibur and trying-to-prop-up-the-feels Mother’s Rosario in the second season? Yeah… Thankfully for this season, it is Alicization all the way and no disappointing small side stories to be distracted with. So huzzah for long story arcs? I promise I won’t complain about this story being draggy! Unfortunately no System Call or any delete button to erase those disappointing arcs. That’s why here’s to hoping the next continuation of this story would be a lot better to erase those dissatisfying ones. You can’t change the past but at least we can programme and create the future to be better. And no, delete and format everything isn’t the answer!

Mahou Shoujo Site

August 12, 2018

What’s this?! Another dark battle royale magical girl series? So, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica + Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku + a little punch of Jigoku Shoujo = Mahou Shoujo Site! Fukou da ne… Well, if the plot of magical girls fighting each other doesn’t sound too original, please bear in mind that this series was written during the height of the popularity of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. I guess now it has only been given its anime treatment. Better late than never? Bored of all the sparkling goodness and clichés in typical magical girl series? I guess we can’t get enough of magical girls killing each other. Hontou ni fukou da ne…

Episode 1
Aya Asagiri tries to kill herself at the railroad crossing. She couldn’t. Every day she thinks of dying. But I don’t think everyone else cares either. At school, she is bullied by a group of girls led by Sarina Shizukume. Heck, even the teacher and other classmates don’t care and turn a blind eye. Toilet break isn’t exactly fun for Asagiri too. Yup, more torture. Her only reprieve is a stray kitten by the bridge. Heck, kitty gets better treatment from Asagiri. Wanna bet the bullies find out about this? It is no different back home. The focus is on her brother, Kaname. Her parents praise him for his grades and intellect. But behind his gentle demeanour, Kaname abuses Asagiri! He ties her up and punches her guts! This is to let off steam for living up to their parents’ expectations. He blames her for that and at least be useful as a stress reliever. That night, a strange Magical Girl Site pops up. It offers magic to her but she shuts it down seeing how creepy everything is. Next morning on her way to school, more misery is added when she sees a certain kitten killed at the tracks. Asagiri is surprised to see a weird gun in her locker. Then more abuse by Shizukume and her groupies. Yeah, they’re so bored of it that Erika Kajima calls her senpai, Shouta Arai to rape her. Asagiri runs away but is caught. Moments before being raped, Erika reveals she killed the kitten. This makes Asagiri mad as she whips out the gun and fires. They disappear. But later it is discovered their bodies have been found near the tracks. Asagiri is fearful that she might have killed them and will be arrested. She tries to find the site again but error 404. With Asagiri ignoring Kaname, looks like his stress is pent up and can’t concentrate on his studies?! Shizukume confronts Asagiri and demands what she did. Asagiri maintains her innocence but she doesn’t believe it. She is going to scar her face when suddenly time stops. Fellow classmate, Tsuyuno Yatsumura comes to her rescue. She claims she is a magical girl and so is Asagiri after receiving a ‘magical stick’. Yatsumura positions Shizukume to slice her own neck. She will tell Asagiri all about Magical Girl Site as she needs her.

Episode 2
Yatsumura further explains her magical stick stops time and Asagiri is able to move because she added her name to a list of exceptions. Asagiri’s power is instant teleportation and she witnessed that ‘murder’ thingy. Yatsumura believes it is their destiny as magical girls to weed out bad people so she shouldn’t feel bad about it. Of course Yatsumura didn’t make Shizukume kill herself but enough to put her in critical condition. Back at her room, Yatsumura explains more about the mysteries. The site owner is unknown but it seems if you accept the magical stick, you are bound to the site rules. Also a note of caution not to use the power so much because it drains your life. There’s an indicator on the arm. Once it runs out, you die. Yatsumura is also here to warn her that there are other magical girls out there. She once worked with a fellow magical girl, Rina Shioi who would gather information on other magical girls. Suddenly someone is killing magical girls and taking their magical stick. They started investigating her and dub her Magical Hunter. Suddenly Shioi disappeared. Her body was never found but before she disappeared, she sent her a picture of what Hunter looked like. Creepy mad as hell. Yatsumura hopes they can cooperate and catch Hunter. As proof, she will protect her tonight. This means no S&M torture from Kaname. Safe. One day after school, Asagiri is stopped by a busty girl. Before she knows it, she is trapped in a magical barrier. Too late for Yatsumura to activate her time stopping magic. This girl is of course Hunter but she looks different. She used another magical stick to alter her appearance. Hunter wants to kill her and all Asagiri could think of not using her stick to get back at her is because she doesn’t want to kill her? With assurance from Yatsumura she won’t, Asagiri fires. It is believed wherever the victim is teleported is based on Asagiri’s will. They catch Hunter and interrogate her. Yatsumura knows she is Shioi as she is reacted to the Hunter moniker when nobody else uses it. Shioi reveals she went around killing others to get her stick as well. The more the better to survive when Tempest arrives. Before she faked her disappearance, she met the site’s admin. She was told the arrival of Tempest on a certain date would bring an end to this world and create a new one. Before she could reveal the important juicy parts, she starts coughing blood. Is this the doing of some magical girl too?

Episode 3
Keisuke Naoto is an obsessed fan of Nijimi Anazawa who is part of a famous idol doggy group. Shioi is in comatose state and the doctor is unsure if she will wake up. Yatsumura believes using too many powers at once caused her to fall into this state. This has them think about why they were chose to be magical girls and Asagiri to ask about Yatsumura’s past. She won’t say but snippets show she found her parents dead. Asagiri has this idea that one of the magical stick may be able to fix Shioi’s condition. As they go through the list. They see a familiar face. Isn’t that Nijimi? Asagiri has this idea to attend her handshake event. When it is their turn, Yatsumura will stop time and then Asagiri will teleport them to a different area. Not sure why they even need to meet her. Couldn’t they just freeze time and teleport? Nijimi is very excited to see other magical girls. After explaining their purpose, before they could ask her magical stick’s ability, she is whisked away by her managers to be brought back to her fans. She gives them an appointed time and place to meet. In her apartment, they see her zombie fans as slaves. She reveals her power to mind control others. Her magical stick? Magical pantsu???!!! Yatsumura knows her power is dangerous and useful, hence the need to get her on their side. When asks if she knows other magical girls, Nijimi becomes upset. Mikado was a magical and best friend until she got killed by Shioi. That’s why if she sees that b*tch, she’ll kill her!!! Scary. Nijimi also reveals she hides the indicators with concealers and she bleeds ‘somewhere else’. The duo leave but not after Nijimi uses her power to exchange contacts. Shizukume is vengeful to make Asagiri pay. Conveniently she is a few doors away from Shioi’s room and she sees Asagiri coming out from there. Possible heard a few important lines in their conversation for future plot purposes. She enters the room and is shocked to see the site admin who is sad that Shioi is disqualified. Aha. A replacement… Kaname must have had it for straight nights without abusing his sister. So he secretly checks her computer and finds frequent visits to the Magical Girl Site. Still error 404, though.

Episode 4
Nana, the site admin invites Shizukume to become a magical girl for revenge. She reveals it was the duo who caused the death of her friend as well as the hideous scar on her neck. She wants Shizukume to succeed Shioi as Hunter and collect magical sticks. She gives her a yoyo as her magical stick. With that, Shizukume can access the site and see the countdown to Tempest. Oh, her yoyo slices things like hot knife through butter. Asagiri reveals her bullied past to Yatsumura. As a transfer student, she is often weak and shy. Shizukume did help her out in several moments but Asagiri continued to remain so. Hence the whole bullying started just because she didn’t say a simple thank you? Sick. Yatsumura tells her to stop blaming herself and be strong. She is not as weak or worthless as she thinks. When Yatsumura returns home, she coughs blood and collapses. Meanwhile Kaname’s grades are slipping to a point dad becomes mad and beats him up! In the streets while other girls swoon over him, in his mind they are nothing but scums. At the convenience store, he buys a drink but Naoto the cashier suddenly goes into shock. News of Nijimi’s sudden retirement. This makes Kaname mad as this is the epitome of the worst kind of scum, validating their lives through others. Asagiri feels good today. The bullying stopped ever since she came into her life. Jumping the gun too fast. Because Shizukume is back! Oh no. Yatsumura is absent and what’s this? Nijimi is a new transfer student in her class?! Oh sh*t. She’s waving at Asagiri. Later as they talk, Nijimi says she retired from showbiz to concentrate on finding Mikado’s killer. That is more important than disappointing her fans. Yup, she still wants to kill her badly. Oh sh*t. Shizukume conveniently eavesdrops this and later confronts Nijimi to mock about her revenge plan. Then she shows a picture of Shioi. You looking for this girl? Asagiri visits Yatsumura’s place. No answer. Door unlock. She is shocked to see Yatsumura collapsed. She is still conscious and attributes this to overusing her power. She forbids her from calling the ambulance in fear of anybody finding out this strange guy chained in her room. He is the reason she became a magical girl. Flashback shows this guy snuck into her home and killed her family but left her alive so he would return to see a prettier grown up Yatsumura. She has been living in fear of him since and one day she discovered the Magical Girl Site and obtained the power. Revenge was all she had to live for.

Episode 5
Asagiri cries for her and promises she won’t be alone. Heart breaking moment with Shizukume coming in to mock them. She also tells them about letting Nijimi know about Shioi. Shizukume begins to cut them up but luckily they’re not stupid to stay where they are. Too bad Yatsumura’s killer got split in half. There goes her revenge. Yatsumura still has a trump card. Nijimi calls Shizukume to complain she can’t kill Shioi because there is a magical barrier protecting her. Yatsumura used several magical sticks to activate multiple powers at once. But this causes to Yatsumura to pass out from exhaustion. Shizukume tries to kill Asagiri but it looks like she wrecked the entire room instead. Asagiri takes over using the magical stick to erect a protection barrier. With her bent on protecting Yatsumura as her only friend, Shizukume calls her a hypocrite for killing Erika and Shouta. This time Asagiri won’t be cowed by her words. She blames Shizukume for all the bullying and never knew the hell she has been through. The feeling of wanting to die every day but couldn’t because was too scared. The place starts crumbling and before the ceiling could crush Shizukume, Asagiri fires her gun to teleport her back to school. Shizukume may be conflicted about her enemy saving her but she still won’t back down because of this and has something important to do to survive Tempest. Casualties are high as rescue teams work all night to pull out survivors. They are shocked to see a barrier protecting Asagiri and Yatsumura. Not sure how they got them out of it as they are wheeled into ICU. Asagiri’s parents are there. They are assured she is in stable condition but looks like Yatsumura is going into cardiac arrest. Nijimi is left frustrated why she couldn’t kill Shioi. If Shizukume kept her word but as though somebody else knows about her wanting to kill her and is trying to protect her. Then she connects the dots. It’s those ‘friends’. Anger level just went up another notch. Kaname is ‘worried’ about Asagiri. I mean, if she dies who else is going to be his punching bag, right? Nijimi is at the door and wonders if Asagiri is in. Damn those killer eyes… Meanwhile eye-patch girl walks into Shioi’s room and prepares to kill her.

Episode 6
Naoto follows Nijimi to Asagiri’s place and is devastated to see her coming into contact with Kaname. But what’s this? Nijimi suddenly falling in love with him?! Is this real or deception? Although on the outside we see them nice and good to each other, deep down in their heart they show us their true colour. Well, both have a bone to pick with Asagiri. Kaname decides to use her in his plan because with this ‘blessing’, he now has a reason to see Nijimi again. Kosame Amagai slits her own wrist and lets Shioi drink her blood. Shioi instantly wakes up. Being a bit pushy for answers, Kosame starts cowering in fear but after taking her medications, she calms down. Kosame reveals she is also a magical girl and her power is healing to those who drink her blood. Since she loves to inflict self-harm, cutting herself is no problem. Yatsumura and Asagiri wake up fine. Friendship time is interrupted when Shioi shows herself and introduces Kosame. Thanks to emo girl, this is the reason why their injuries are totally healed. Kosame continues explaining the juicy stuffs. There are many other Magical Girl Sites each with its own admin. But every site leads to the same revelation of Tempest. She further shows them more info on it. Tempest indeed is going to destroy the world. However there is a way one can survive. Offer the negative energy of humans to the King. They can be collected and stored via magical sticks and during the day of Tempest when one offers it, the one with the most negative energy will survive. But this means magical girls being given their own stick will start killing each other to fill up the meter. Also, if they used the magical stick too much, they’ll die. This means, the sites never intended for them to live. Kosame needs their help to join them. Their plan is to catch a site admin and make them spill more about Tempest. But first, Asagiri and Yatsumura need to find their magical sticks lost in the rubble. Since Shioi blames them for losing all her hard work, she lets them search for themselves. I think it’s going to take a while. We take a break with Yatsumura thanking Asagiri for defending her. Now her reason to live isn’t for revenge anymore. Asagiri surprises her parents by returning home and also plead for Yatsumura to stay with them for the time being since she lost her home. Kaname is suspicious about the ‘magic’ of them being healed and does his own research on the sites. Nana and the other site admins convene and are not amused nosy girls are poking too deep into the site’s secrets. What’s the solution? Kill them off! Damn, lots of dead magical girls…

Episode 7
Kosame reminds them that despite she is able to heal their wounds, it doesn’t mean their life is prolonged. They will still die during their teens from the use of magical sticks. We see Asagiri and Yatsumura sleeping together and talking about the future they want but sorry, not hot lesbian sex. We are introduced to some of Kosame’s magical girl groupies. The yakuza, the rich girl and the bully victim because he is a cross-dresser. Nijimi confronts Asagiri and Yatsumura. But first they tell her the truth and circumstances. She agrees to help find the site admin only if they let her kill Shioi with her own hands. To make matters worse, Shioi becomes a transfer student in their class. Instantly Nijimi is going to jump and kill her but luckily Yatsumura holds her down and has Asagiri take off her magical pantsu! The guys must be revelling in joy in this confusion. Yatsumura takes the magical pantsu and hides it. After they get yelled by the teacher, they converge at the park to meet Kosame’s groupies. They introduce themselves as well as their magical sticks’ ability: Sayuki Ringa (katana hardens anything she wants to cut), Mikari Izumigamine (broomstick allows her to fly fast and far), Asahi Takiguchi (necklace boosts physical abilities like speed) and Kiyoharu Suirenji (ring enables telepathy). Not surprising, some have bad blood with each other. They discuss the strategy to kidnap a site admin. Shizukume meets up with Nana who wants the magical sticks she gathered. But she won’t give them back and will use them to kill those girls. Nana fires a warning shot not to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong or she’ll die too. Asagiri is so kind to bring Shioi to stay with her. I guess Yatsumura won’t have any lesbian monopoly on her tonight. Definitely for Kaname too. During the bath, Asagiri gets a call from Kosame. Sounds like bad news so much so Asagiri starts crying. She has a favour to ask of her.

Episode 8
Naoto blames Kaname for stealing his Nijimi and vows to kill him. But what’s this? Our magical girls get to enjoy time at the beach? Does this series badly wants fanservice? I guess with the end of the world coming and the final battle with Tempest looming, why not enjoy ourselves first, right? So we see the girls having fun, more of Asagiri and Yatsumura thanking each other and this outing was planned by Asagiri because that call from Kosame told her that Yatsumura has not much longer to live after using too much of her magical stick. Later they realize somebody has broken into their locker and only stole Nijimi’s magical stick. Kiyoharu reads everyone’s minds but finds none of them as the culprit. But we’ll soon know as Naoto confronts Kaname and is going to kill him. Flashback shows Kaname using his suave skills to persuade Nijimi to disclose some magical girl stuffs. Kaname orders him on his knees and without skipping a beat, Naoto grovels before him. Wait a minute. If he has no vagina, where does he bleed from?! Does his balls bleed/! Kaname revels in his power as he shows off wearing Nijimi’s pantsu just to piss him off. My, what big dick he has! Plus, no bleeding? Kaname then orders him to walk into the ocean and stab himself in the heart. What do you know? Asagiri is watching this and very terrified. As she returns with her friends, she sees Kaname staring at her. On no. That sick look and smile… On the way home, Asagiri is terrified if her friends find out because they will kill him. After all he has done to you and you still care about that bastard? Wow. Such a nice girl. She is in a dilemma on what to do buy Kiyoharu has read her mind and knows what is going on and would like to resolve this as peacefully as possible. Detective Kiichirou Misumi and his police pick up Naoto’s body. As they investigate, he finds everything about his suicide off. He then sees a picture of Nijimi written all over with death threats addressing to Kaname. Nijimi is glad to meet Kaname but there is something he needs to tell her as he whispers into her ear…

Episode 9
Sayuki takes some of the girls to stay at her place. It’s her yakuza mansion. Definitely safe with all those thugs around… Meanwhile Kaname is at Nijimi’s place and the latter is fawning all over him until he uses the magical stick against her. She is begging for her life but Kaname views her as useless. As he orders her to hang herself, Asahi under Kiyoharu’s mind control barges in and beats him up. But with Nijimi still obedient to him, he turns the tables on her and tells her to kill Kiyoharu. Mikari rushes to Sayuki’s place to tell the bad news. Kosame cuts herself to heal Kiyoharu but there’s not enough blood. She would love to cut herself but Asagiri takes responsibility for this and uses her blood to save Kiyoharu. She reveals the truth about what she saw. But they’re not out of the woods yet as Kaname strolls in. Hello ladies. All of them are under his command as he takes it all out on his sister. Sick guy licks his sister’s hand with the cutter to heal himself. As he orders Nijimi to collect the magical sticks, Kiyoharu manages to telepathically talk to Nijimi and snap her out of Kaname’s control. She tells her to pretend and find a way to catch him off-guard. However realizing she has been duped by him, she cannot contain her again and charges at him only to be slashed. When you die, you always reflect on your life. In the case of Nijimi, she loves performing in front of others because she loves to see everyone happy. Reality hits hard when her debt ridden dad kills himself and the debt collector threatens the family. Hence Nijimi turned to the Magical Girl Site in hopes of reversing this disaster. Looks like she won’t get her chance. In her final attempt, she breaks a bottle and stabs into Kaname’s throat. Panicky Kaname tries to get the cutter but some invisible figure prevents him. Then the place is shrouded with smokescreen. When Asagiri wakes up, she sees all the other girls around Nijimi. She’s dead. Healing won’t work anymore.

Episode 10
Nijimi is such a big shot that a public memorial service is held for her. Misumi is talking to asking Asagiri’s parents who are worried about Kaname’s disappearance. Meanwhile Asagiri is as usual wallowing in depression and regret. Only thoughts of Nijimi until she realizes she needs to become stronger. About time. As she tries to find her lost magical stick and vows to protect everyone with her life, Shizukume confronts her. During Nijimi’s funeral, Asagiri surprises everyone by turning up. Later she turns her gun towards them and fire. Shortly, the building they are in collapses. It seems Nana is in cohorts with Misumi to kill them. He is the guy who stopped Kaname as he was tasked to retrieve his magical stick. He assures her Kaname is dead but it looks like he is kept alive, tied up somewhere. Now his job is to retrieve those dead magical girls’ stick. Luckily they are still alive as Asagiri teleported them somewhere. She tells them the site administrators are trying to kill them and knows about it because of Shizukume. The rest are shocked to see Shizukume joining their side. However Asagiri wants them to hand over their magical sticks. She wants them to drop out of this fight and return to their normal lives. It is her fault this mess started and she will atone it herself. But even if they give their magical sticks, that doesn’t delete the fact that they are still magical girls and will still be targeted. When Asagiri sounds too desperately desperate, Yatsumura slaps her and has her remember her initial promise about not doing this alone. With a little pep talk that they all share the burden and the pain, Shizukume gives them back their missing magical sticks. As for why she is siding with them. At first she was engaged by Nana to kill them all had they survived the explosion. Those site administrators don’t see them as people and discard them when they are useless. She is done being their pawn. They gear up to prepare taking down the Magical Girl Site.

Episode 11
The girls lay in wait to ambush a site administrator. They have the details because Yuka Sumikura who runs a blog site, uploaded details of how she is going to get a magical stick (too bad she’ll be waiting forever). But soon as her post gets uploaded, it is deleted. Possibly what she written down is true. At the school building, they wait until Ni shows up in which Shioi pounds her with her hammer. Uhm, she only lost a leg? Shioi rants how based on all the data they’ve collected, they could tell site admins have certain protocols to follow and areas assigned. That’s how they lay this bait. Yeah, it won’t do you any good spilling out those details as Ni attacks. To show how powerful she is, she kills a dumb guard passing by. Instead of being afraid and calling for backup, he called out to the monster and paid with his life. Ni turns her attention to Asagiri but she teleports her to the rooftop where Shizukume is waiting as she cuts her to pieces before Shioi finishes her off. This decoy is part of their plan. They are shocked when the corpse turns into a human one. Could it be that site admins are humans? I don’t know, but doesn’t the corpse look a little like a robot? Meanwhile, the other magical girls are being hindered by another side admin, Hachi. She is able to clone herself and keep them at bay. How long can Sayuki keep fending off her sword attacks? Back to the rest, they are confronted by Nana who claims she has been watching them. She made Ni a decoy to lure them out. Now she is going to kill them. At first Yatsumura seems dumb enough to let her destroy her magical stick. But when the timing is right, she initiates a barrier to protect her friends while attempting to cut her with Shizukume’s yoyo. Uhm, in exchange for taking in all those shots, she only cut off an arm? Yeah. Failed. Hence cue for Yatsumura’s last words. Thank you this, thank you that. She knows she hasn’t got long to live either. Goodbye. Dead. Cue for Asagiri to go berserk and scream over the death of her best friend. In another plot twist, in the base of the site administrators, Ichi welcomes the latest member to their circle: Yatsumura!

Episode 12
Nana tells Yatsumura about all the misfortune and hate building up in this world. Because of that, Yatsumura’s accumulated negative energy is deemed sufficient to be fed to the King who will then release Tempest onto the world. The King is the world’s most unfortunate girl and the plan is to wipe Earth of malice by evolving humans into something malice-free. Those who cannot adapt will die. Asagiri teleports her other friends away. She intends to be with Yatsumura but suddenly she comes back alive! Nana explains she is now an administrator but since she is not full-fledged, she needs more negative energy to become one. And that person to feed her that is Asagiri! So it becomes a strange hide and seek game. You think friendship talk is going to save the day? Can Yatsumura even hear her? Oh well, cliché time. Asagiri then shoots her own heart while Yatsumura strangles her. Did she go back in time to a young Yatsumura? Not sure, there’s the magical girl mark on her wrist. With assurance to always be with her, it dispels whatever fear she has as Yatsumura regains her consciousness. She is sad to see Asagiri’s lifeless body before her. But then, plot twist! She still lives as they both shoot at Nana. Nana claims unfairness as they used their magical sticks to free other magical girls. She asks if they are unfortunate souls. They reply they became magical girls out of misfortune but their misfortune is for nobody to decide. Therefore they are not unfortunate. Yatsumura resumes time and lets Nana get hit by a train? That killed her? Fatality! In the aftermath, more good news because Sayuki-Mikari combo somehow manage to cut down Hachi while Shizukume lives thanks to Kosame and Shioi donating blood to her. Meanwhile the administrators are talking about this mess but Ichi says they can be replaced. Meanwhile in Misumi’s lair, there are lots of magical sticks hanging up his wall. But here is the worst part. At least for Kaname. Because his butt is going to get raped by him!!! OMFG!!!!!!!!! And meanwhile too, Asagiri and Yatsumura live a happy lesbian life? Not if Ichi narrates how he hopes misfortune will befall on them because they have taken on the malice inside people’s hearts, boasting the misfortunes of the past have given rise to happiness in the present. This is an unforgivable sin as it dents the King’s plan.

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Oh, you poor unfortunate soul. Fukou da ne, fukou da ne… I am not sure if this is the end at all. Asagiri and Yatsumura successfully killing the site admin who has been a thorn on their side doesn’t mean Tempest will go away. Sure, it looked like a bright sunny day after their victory with the other magical girls coming out alive and a bit scathed, that’s all. They sound like everything is over. But this only delays slightly the coming of Tempest so by a long shot, everything is far from over. Hence with this ‘happy ending’ this season has closed, it just doesn’t feel right. To a point that I think the main goal was just to defeat Nana and our main duo can happily frolic with each other. Wow. So fortunate finally, you girls. Oh right. Who are we to determine the misfortune of others, eh?

Although it started out pretty slowly and interesting, I can’t help feel that halfway through it was like dragging things out. Perhaps I was having the mentality of magical girls killing each other and when I wasn’t seeing at least a magical girl dying per episode, that was probably what got my goat. Yeah, I’m such a sadist… Can’t be help. I expected to see more than just spilled blood in this kind of series! Sure, there are dead magical girls in almost every episode. But those are just minor characters with no name whom we will never care. Those kind of magical girls are the ones racking up the body count. Then trying to find more allies to fight against the inevitable Tempest, hence the detour of trying to capture or even kill a site administrator feels lacklustre. It feels more dragged out than something that would maintain and pique your interest. I wonder if this series would have done better had an extra cour being given. Because a dozen episodes feels too short considering the pacing and direction of this series.

Even the big antagonist’s plot of trying to bring a disaster to the world in hopes of saving humanity by destroying a big chunk of it doesn’t sound original. Hmm… Where have I heard this kind of plot before? Oh, right. From Code Geass to even Sousei No Onmyouji. Heck, even Thanos from the Marvel universe has this same intention. Higher powers claim they have the moral right to obliterate weaklings and create a world without all the negative emotions for the ultimate world. A world lacking that negative emotion. It should be perfect but our heroes and heroines place more important on status quo than anything. That’s why the world continues to suck and soak up all the hatred.

The series also tries to deal with some dark themes. A lot of them. From incessant bullying to even to domestic abuse and even depression (woah, that man rape at the end wasn’t entirely expected), however they aren’t addressed in a serious manner. Did the magical power of the magical girls somehow interfered and made it less relevant? Because you see, even as Asagiri became some sort of a punching bag for Shizukume’s groupies to bully, this is supposed to score some sympathy points but the way she takes every beating like as though she extends her life force from every hit makes it feel unrealistic. If that wasn’t enough, we have her older brother who often lets off steam with his nightly visits. Yeah, he is just short of raping his sister. Maybe in time he would. Hence with Asagiri being casted as powerless (before she was a magical girl), it makes it look like one S&M fest with her bullies enjoying tormenting her while Asagiri ‘enjoying’ every moment of blows she has taken in. And the bullying stops because she became a magical girl. Felt more like plot convenience to me.

The characters are boring and uninspiring. You don’t feel like you want to root for them and only had to because they’re the good characters and out of sympathy. Like I have said with Asagiri as a veteran bully victim, she doesn’t feel like the main character and only felt so because more screen time is given to her. She has hardly changed and is mostly the same guilt ridden girl from the start. Only this time she has Yatsumura to care about. Therefore her noble attitude trying to protect and save her because the power of friendship reeks cringe. Maybe it is natural for Asagiri since Yatsumura is the first person who ever treated her closely to a human being. So it’s understandable Asagiri puts her on a pedestal and trying to show her worth as a friend instead of being some useless victim.

Copying Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s fashion, the biggest twist is revealed to be the site administrators were once humans. That’s like how the witches in that anime were once magical girls, no? I have always kept it in the back of my mind that Yatsumura might not be the good person that she seems to be before Asagiri. Because I was thinking that at one point she might betray her. All this playing friendship and being nice with her is just part of her bigger plan. After all, all magical girls have their own goals so it is not surprising Yatsumura has hers. Now, my theory is that the criminal that Yatsumura has been slowly torturing as revenge is dead, even though it is not Asagiri’s fault but she had an indirect hand in ending that reason to live. Words are easy and would you believe if a human could get over a long outstanding grudge just after a mere realization of friendship? Especially in this dark series? I’m not putting my faith in it yet. So even if Yatsumura is true blue in her friendship towards Asagiri, perhaps the ultimate betrayal to Asagiri will come in the form of her being the next site administrator. Well, she did became temporarily one but that BS friendship crap ruined it all. Instead, Asagiri did apologize and say something about ‘betraying’ her but I didn’t get it. So is it true that they have no malice in their hearts now? Damn, I didn’t think it was this easy.

The problem with the other magical girls is that they don’t feel too relevant. The new ones they teamed up with halfway through still feel like a ragtag bunch only put together because of a common cause. They do play minor roles like Kiyoharu’s telepathy thingy but any more than that, it usually boils down to Asagiri and Yatsumura. The rest I can’t even remember their names properly. Like that one who runs fast, the one who rides the broomstick and the emo girl who is tempting who cut herself. Seeing that they don’t have any backgrounds or given such prominence as Asagiri or Yatsumura, I was thinking they could be sacrificial goats. However, even if the plot did not turn into a big battle royale and became a big cooperating team to take down the menace, well, it certainly didn’t go the way I expected as seen in Avengers: Infinity War. Oh heck, why not just kill off everybody and be done with it.

You thought Shizukume would be a thorn in the main group’s side. Unfortunately she decides to put aside their differences and join them against the site administrators. I don’t know about you, it feels disappointing. I thought it would add another layer of hostility for the group seeing they have another threat to deal with. Even if she wasn’t around to join in the final battle, it didn’t matter. Perhaps to show some solidarity among the magical girls to fight for the greater good? Thank goodness it tuned out alright, didn’t it?

Kaname is more interesting than these girls because of his sick and twisted mind. This guy is a narcissist who thinks he is better than everyone. There is a saying that goes if meeting one or two people, they might be an asshole. But if everyone you meet is an asshole, you are probably the asshole. Could not be so true in Kaname’s case. But he isn’t different than everyone and is as low as a scum like those he thinks they are. Otherwise, why would he need to abuse his sister just to keep his sanity and grades? This already shows he has a flaw and ever since Asagiri turned into a magical girl, the stress keeps building up that it finally explodes. This guy could be a serial killer had he not have school obligations. Kaname is such an interesting guy that the next episode preview is about him talking in his thoughts. It usually starts out very nice and polite until the punchline in the end that reveals his darker side. But too bad he became Misumi’s sex toy so not sure what will turn out of him. Just desserts? Yeah, this was what you have been doing to Asagiri all the time. Just short of penetrating her but now you got a hot guy sticking it deep into your ass. Yeah, his hole so big, bigger than the plot hole of this series! HAHAHA!!! I don’t even know why Misumi’s character exists except for this final disturbing part that doesn’t bring us anywhere. Maybe it is to subtly tell us now Asagiri can sleep soundly now that her brother is tormenting?

One of the biggest mind boggling issues comes in the part where Kaname was trying to kill the magical girls or at least get revenge on them. At least his sister. You remember the part where he had them all under his control. And he is just a command away from silencing them. Even if Nijimi had stuck a broken bottle in his throat, a little more struggle is more than enough to finish them off. But no. Instead, Nana sent that detective to stop him. Then she wanted them dead and thought of killing them herself. So instead of letting this mad brother do the job for her, she let them lived and then wanted them dead soon after? Does this make sense? Are there rules she has to follow through? Heck, she even failed to kill all of them. Yeah, I suppose it is to provide some tension, drama and drag out the plot.

I have a feeling they want to keep some sort of mystery about the site administrators, hence we don’t know nothing about them aside that they wear weird creepy masks and are named after numbers. Also, they might be human. Yatsumura being incepted doesn’t mean all of them could be considered as once humans. Even if the site administrators are scary and powerful, it isn’t like they are so powerful or omniscient like God. Because if they were, our main magical girls wouldn’t have given them such a hard time. Like when they baited and lured out Ni who suspected nothing. I don’t believe she was playing along. And Nana who should have killed them off during Nijimi’s funeral, does she not know that they are not dead? Always check the bodies… Even some of them do not get along among themselves and just like the ragtag bunch of magical girls, they’re just there for a common goal and share the same common powers.

The fight scenes as well as the magical sticks feel pretty meh. It’s a good thing that they are not confined to its user and anybody can own and use them. Otherwise it will be a pain and boring to see the same girls using the same magic sticks, something that most of them often do. So once in a while, we see them use a different stick other than theirs but fights don’t often last that long. Maybe except that Shizukume vs Asagiri-Yatsumura at the apartment one. But I’ll give points for the pantsu being a magical stick item. Never really saw that coming. The other mind boggling thing is that when Kaname was wearing them, he did not bleed like other magical girls. Is it because he is not a magical girl? But it doesn’t make sense because you can use the item because you’re a magical girl and not an ordinary person. Otherwise, I’m sure the girls aren’t dumb enough to be bound by the rules of being a magical girl and can still use them while remaining ordinary. Also be warned that there are lots of blood spilling in this anime. But I am assuming those who are watching this have no aversion to blood and want to see more.

I have mixed feelings for the art and animation. The characters have this cute or strange feel to them. Like Asagiri who looks like plain Jane but with those bags under her eyes, it looks like she does not have enough sleep. Maybe. Being kept awake by Kaname’s abuse certainly has a toll on her health. Oddly, Asagiri somewhat reminds me of Alice from Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku. Others like Yatsumura and Nijimi look a bit cartoonish so it is a bit contrasting to the dark theme of the series. It is the site administrators that look scary and could easily give one nightmares. Thankfully I didn’t get any. Their monochrome appearance and the lack of animation enhance the surreal look like as though are paper cut-outs inserted into the animation. This is Production doA’s first anime series (the other being the Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka Dear My Sister movie) so cut them some slack?

Voice acting also doesn’t feel anything special. Yuko Oono as Asagiri (Shiori in Toji No Miko) certainly makes her character feel she is at her limits. Nobuhiko Okamoto feels at home playing the psychotic Kaname since this feels like his other similar characters, namely Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu Index. Aoi Yuuki also has a role here as Hachi but it was tough to spot her not in the voice I could identify with. Other casts are Himika Akaneya as Yatsumura (Tamarai in ReLIFE), Haruka Yamazaki as Shizukume (Ruka in Hayate No Gotoku), Aina Suzuki as Shioi (Mari in Love Live! Sunshine), Yuu Serizawa as Nijimi (Yumemi in Kakegurui), Ryusei Nakao as Nana (Mayuri in Bleach), Yumi Hara as Kosame (Albedo in Overlord), Eriko Matsui as Kiyoharu (Isuzu in Log Horizon), Mao Ichimichi as Sayuki (titular character in Space Patrol Luluco), Kaede Hondo as Mikari (Koyume in Comic Girls), Lynn as Asahi (Maya in Sabagebu) and Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Misumi (Eishirou in Sora No Otoshimono). And last but not least… Mamiko Noto as the King!!!!!! OMFG!!! Only one short line in the end!!! Maybe this show is really taking after Jigoku Shoujo in some ways. Imagine if the King turns out to be Enma Ai… Oh boy, scary or insulting?

I have this feeling that the opening theme, Changing Point by iRis wants to sound as epic as Connect, which is the opening theme for Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Heck, the name sounds familiar to Claris who sang that song. Note that Himika Akaneya and Yuu Serizawa are part of this 6 member idol group. Well, it certainly tries to copy and have that feel as Connect but doesn’t live up to the hype. Or at least my standards. In other words, didn’t find it attractive enough to like it. The ending theme, Zenzen Tomodachi by Haruka Yamazaki isn’t anything special either. Maybe that is why they try to distract you with that live animation of a pair of girls (Asagiri and Yatsumura, I suppose) doing this weird dance on the rooftop. Open classroom? Are they doing some sort of demonic summon ritual or are they being possessed? But that weirdness cannot beat the animation of sperms flying in the air!!! WTF??????!!!!!!!! SPERMS!!!!! YOU SAW THAT RIGHT!!!!! What does a male reproductive cell has got to do in this predominantly female series???!!! I guess normal people don’t know how ovaries look like. But then again, why sperm? Why Japan? Why?!

Overall, I wanted to like this series not because I want to see dead magical girls who end up killing each other. Okay, maybe part of me wants that. Uninteresting characters, draggy plot that didn’t go anywhere far and unexciting twist ended up being its greatest demise. However with the thought that it is trying to compare itself to Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and it came out 6 years later partly diminishes its potential to be greater. Heck, I still prefer Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku by a mile. Let’s hope in the future they can come up with better magical girl stories otherwise magical girls would only be reduced to nostalgia and taken over by nonsensical ones involving guys (looking at you, Mahou Shoujo Ore and the Binan series). When that really happens, it would be most unfortunate. Yup, we definitely decide our own misfortunes and misery. Fukou da ne, fukou da ne…

Killing Bites

June 10, 2018

Have you ever wondered if you matched up certain animals with certain animals, who would be the victor? I’m sure there was kiddie card video game, Animal Kaiser but I didn’t play that one so I wouldn’t know. Instead, we have Killing Bites. No, we won’t be so cruel so as to use real animals to fight each other in a death caged arena. Instead, we have genetically engineered humans with the ability to transform part of their bodies into certain animals as they duke it out to be the ultimate king of the beasts. Because it is not the strongest or the fastest who wins but the one with the sharpest fangs.

Episode 1
Yuuya Nomoto thought he would be picking up girls with his friends. Unfortunately he didn’t read between the lines because they snatch a high school girl into their van and start raping her! Nomoto is shocked from this development but before he knows it, the girl, Hitomi Uzaki is all fine and his friends are all dead! Forcing him to drive to a junkyard, he is further sickened to see dead bodies everywhere. He tries to escape but bumps into Yugo Tani. He explains about Therianthropes, humans infused with supernatural powers of animals. Leo feels insulted when he thinks Nomoto doesn’t believe it all and transforms into his Therianthrope lion form, Brute Leo. Hitomi saves his ass and wants to use Nomoto as a bet. As in money? No, his body. Organs, that is. It will fetch a high price in the black market. Hitomi transforms into her Therianthrope form, Brute Ratel. Hence begins Killing Bites, bloody matches between Therianthropes. Nomoto is stunned as he see both beasts lunging at full power at each other. In the end, it is Ratel who against all odds wins. Something about her animal ratel (mongoose + skunk?) being the least fearful animal in the world. In the aftermath, Nomoto wakes up in his room. All a dream? Not if Hitomi is sleeping next to you. Apparently last night after the match, he is so grateful she won (because he gets to live) and was even concerned with her bruises (because no high school girl should be this injured?). She got a call from her guardian, Reiichi Shidou to let him take her in so that’s how she ended up sleeping here.

At the café, Shidou makes his appearance. We see Hitomi obviously smitten with him. Before Nomoto could explain himself, Shidou knows all about him. Every detail. He explains about genetic enhancements that allowed the development of Therianthropes. So what is the purpose of all this? A secret proxy war has been held among large corporations of the past known as Zaibatsu. The big 4 are Mitsukado, Yatsubishi, Sumitomo and Ishida. They use Killing Bites to fight for representation and as a form of illegal gambling. Shidou is the director and organizer of Killing Bites and his job is to make things go smoothly. This means making his friends’ death look like a car accident. Shidou assigns Hitomi to be Nomoto’s bodyguard seeing his is Ratel’s sole investor. Lose him, lose your rights to participate in Killing Bites. Oh, Nomoto got paid a 100 million yen for that. Shidou’s secretary, Mai Shinozaki wonder if this was necessary as they could save the money and just arrest him. But Shidou thinks Nomoto has something that Hitomi lacks. She’ll need it because the next Killing Bites will get messy. Nomoto becomes Hitomi’s gopher boy. Out on some errand, he is stopped by a flasher. A hot babe! Take a look at her tits! I mean, no straight men would say no, right?! But he has to pay the price as he gets pierced by her spike. She wants him to tell all about Ratel but no need to go through any third party because Ratel is here. Ask her yourself.

Episode 2
Letting Nomoto out was just a ploy to use him as bait. Hitomi fights Ryoko Araka AKA Brute Rowdy. Her porcupine spikes seem formidable and Rowdy thought she had killed her with them. Well, she’s very much alive. Some brief lesson how a ratel’s skin is like a natural armour. Ratel rebounds and wins and could have killed her had not Nomoto stopped her. Don’t want any murders near his home. Rowdy is willing to sacrifice herself to kill Ratel but is knocked aside by Ichinosuke Okajima AKA Brute Hippopotamus. He looks like he wants to pick a fight with Ratel but then he begs her to help his faction. In Nomoto’s room, Okajima explains he is from Ichida faction (Rowdy is from Yatsubishi) and he hopes she will join them. Instant rejection. Hitomi believes she is the strongest and doesn’t need allies. Okajima tries to warn her about not only relying on her skills but this makes her mad and ready to fight. Till a well-timed message from Shidou telling her to join them did she agree with no hesitation. Although Hitomi will not officially join them, this is just temporary help so she can enter the next Killing Bites under the Ishida’s banner. Nomoto’s life has just gotten weirder since Hitomi will be going to his college. Well, she is his bodyguard. So you bet his nerdy friend, Moriyama is going bonkers seeing a super kawaii girl with him. As Hitomi is taking a dump, Eruza Nakanishi of Yatsubishi peeps on her and steals her panties! She makes Ratel chase her all the way out of the campus as Ratel wonders about Eruza who isn’t in her beast form but yet can run and evade so fast. In the forest, Eruza transforms into her cheetah form and pins down Ratel. She tries to finish her off but is impressed when Ratel fights back instead of evade. Before they could get it on, they are stopped by Mitsukado’s guys, Shota Yabe AKA Brute Gorilla and Jerome Hongou AKA Brute Bear. He reminds them that all factions want a piece of Ratel and since Ishida hired her to enter Killing Bites Destroyal tournament, all fights between participants are forbidden under the pact. A couple of Sumitomo Brutes are watching Ratel. They note they have assassination orders on her. One of them wants to have fun with her but is reminded by the other there will be competition. All factions are targeting her and Destroyal will be a contest for Ratel.

Episode 3
Nomoto surrounded by hot girls. They sound like they’re arguing over him. No wonder his loser otaku friends are mad. Because of that, they force him to make them maid outfits. Hitomi didn’t want to but Eruza didn’t hesitate. She teaches Hitomi how to do isolated transformation, partial transformation of some of her beast form so it doesn’t use up much energy. With all the otaku losers cheering on the hot maids, Hitomi loves the feeling of being praised and poses more for them. A win-win situation. When Nomoto goes home, he is shocked to see Leo here. But it is his master, Yoko, the granddaughter of Yozan, Mitsukado’s patriarch, who is here to talk to him. She wants him to withdraw from Destroyal. It seems there is a change in the tournament’s format. Instead of one-on-one, it will now be a battle royale. This could mean certain death for losers. It is believed Shidou had a hand in this as he views Killing Bites as an experiment ground. Yoko informs him that he is also a participant. Brutes are like chess pieces and the financier (him in this case) is the player who moves them. Is he willing to participate in a game that puts her life on the line? Well, he thinks of asking Hitomi’s permission… Otherwise she’ll kill him for deciding alone! Likewise, Eruza is explaining this to Hitomi and wants her to pick a stronger financier. But Hitomi is sticking with Nomoto. Despite being weak, he can sniff out the strong and this means he cannot go against her. She can do anything she wants. Bully.

Yoko is shocked with Nomoto’s decision and decides to enter Destroyal to defeat Ratel. Yozan agrees and will use Destroyal to test Shidou’s worth. When Hitomi comes back and before Nomoto could open his mouth, she says they’ll be entering. Okajima notes that Destroyal is also a team match. Three per team is needed. However it is tough looking for the third Ishida participant since many refuse to enter. Like as though some force behind it is forcing them not to participate. He decides to go one who is not affiliated with Ishida. Herald bunny girl, Ui Inaba AKA Brute Rabbit. Can timid and shy girl do the job? With her being so scared, prospects aren’t looking good. Hitomi takes over. Threats! Made it worse. Now she is totally scared. Nomoto’s turn. Nice encouraging words. Only, some assassin interrupts them. Akemi Kishimoto AKA Brute Horned Lizard of Sumitomo shoots blood from her eyes as laser! Scared Ui runs away. Could have been done for if not for Ratel saving the day. Thinking back Nomoto’s words, Ui gets the courage to help as uses her strong hearing skills to sniff out a hidden opponent and tell Ratel her whereabouts. She is able to defeat both horned lizard sisters but not kill them (because Shidou praised her for doing the right thing with Rowdy). She lets them go and wants to spread the word Ui kicked their asses or she will report to Shidou that they broke the pact rules before Destroyal. With Ui buoyed with her first ever win, she gets confident enough that she can do it and will enter Destroyal under Ishida’s ticket. Now Hitomi will train Nomoto for Destroyal. Hope he won’t get destroyed by her first.

Episode 4
Looks like everyone is having a luxurious party before the fight. Taiga Nakanishi, Eruza’s older brother is not happy that Leo will not be fighting in Destroyal due to his injury from Ratel. Because of that, he views Destroyal as too easy a win for him. Counting his chickens? He thinks he is enough to take everyone by himself so Eruza seeks his ‘permission’ to fight Hitomi. Shidou relays the rules. The battleground will be Hotei Island near Philippines. The island will be divided into grids in which players will give commands to their Brutes on where to move. When Brutes enter the same grid, they will fight. The only rule for victory is if the others are killed or incapacitated. The last ones standing win. Each Brutes will have a communicator in which commands are to be relayed. If they take it off or break other rules, it will explode. Players begin rolling the dice to see how many squares their Brutes can move. Yoko mocks Nomoto if he knows the terrain well because if he doesn’t, he will send his Brutes to their deaths. Many are mocking Nomoto as an amateur. But when it is his turn, he moves Ratel into the most coveted position on the island where it is a bird’s eyes view of the entire island. They realize it is Ratel who is giving him the orders to move. The player being played? Works for them. Ratel will face Bear in Destroyal’s first fight. Bear is confident in taking her down as Leo previously advised him how Ratel will purposely get beaten up just to access your strength. Use that against her. When the fight begins, Bear goes down in one strike! Apparently Ratel still remembers the force during her first encounter with Bear. Everyone is left in shock with Bear’s defeat. Yoko getting even more upset to beat this college amateur. Meanwhile there will be a 4 way fight from all Zaibatsu. It seems there is a secret pact to take down Yatsubishi’s Taiga. But Taiga relishes using Okajima, Gorilla and Sumitomo’s Ryuji Shiina AKA Brute Crocodile to sharpen his claws.

Episode 5
Crocodile only wants to fight Taiga alone. He gets owned. Gorilla tries to intervene but he too gets taken out. Meanwhile at another spot, Eruza is facing off with Sumitomo’s Kaede Kazama AKA Brute Gecko and Den Onuma AKA Brute Cobra. Too bad she got owned and after Gecko beats the hell out of her, it is Cobra’s turn to rape her. I guess a single tail is enough to be considered tentacle rape. Taiga is about to face off with Okajima when he gets orders to move and lend Eruza a hand. However Crocodile bites his leg and immobilizes him. If Taiga doesn’t move accordingly, his communicator will explode. Before Eruza gets raped, Hitomi takes out Cobra. Hitomi to the rescue and it looks like Nomoto couldn’t stand Eruza being ganged up seeing both girls are somewhat friends. When other players hear this reason, they start laughing and mocking him. Except Yoko. She’s so mad that she warns she will kill him if he desecrates Killing Bites any further. What’s this? Hitomi getting owned by Gecko?! It seems she cannot escape her grip as Hitomi specializes in mid-range combat and not close quarters. At this point, I suppose all participants have wised up in learning Hitomi’s traits and skills. Cobra is looking forward to continue raping Eruza but gets slashed by her in the face. This sets up a tag team match of Hitomi-Eruza versus the Sumitomo duo.

Episode 6
Cobra turns into his true cobra form. Uhm, do cobras have arms? Meanwhile Taiga is going to take Crocodile down with him. Crocodile is resolved to do just that and not let go. However Okajima tackles them. Freed Taiga is able to move to the required spot and avoid death. Okajima lectures about Killing Bites isn’t a suicide show despite having no rules and real animals value their own lives. Flashback shows Okajima grateful to Seira Tou for saving his life. She is the wife of some bank managing director and is now his financier. He is willing to lay down his life to give her victory but that will not do for her. As they have invested a lot in Therianthrope surgery, they can’t have them wasting their valuable lives like that. Crocodile is now mad at Okajima and is going to kill him. It seems all his wounds are healing and in no time he will be back up to his usual strength. Cobra thinks he has paralyzed Ratel with his mist of toxic venom. He is going to rape her and is that a giant cobra’s dick we see?! Two of them?! Too bad he got them slashed and ripped when Ratel recovers. She wasn’t pretending to be paralyzed but something about her ability to recover from a cobra’s venom. Then she tears Cobra apart. Eruza seems to be having a hard time with Gecko but in the end the cheetah doesn’t feel any pain from all that high speed pounding. I know cheetahs are fast but that doesn’t mean they are immune to super speed beat ups. Are they? I guess Ratel got bored and decides to see if Eruza needs help.

Episode 7
Before Crocodile could kill Okajima, Takeshi Kido enters the ring (his financier is Yoko). Gorilla warns Crocodile about destroying the environment because Kido is an environmentalist and evil doers will face his wrath. Crocodile doesn’t listen and attacks. But his whipping tail cannot penetrate his hard skin. When he decides to bite his head off, Kido punches a hole in his head! Even when dead, Kido keeps pounding him to a pulp! Hoping his crushed body would be fertilizers for the fallen tree? Gorilla turns to attack Okajima but the latter suddenly disappears. If you’ve been wondering why Ui has not been in action and digging holes, this is probably it. The labyrinth of underground tunnels Ui dug is what saved Okajima. Not sure about Ui’s bright idea to stall the enemies while he recovers. Because rabbit versus gorilla? Looks like she is going to get f*cked. Gecko retreats after getting orders to move. Eruza and Ratel now fight each other. Eruza is dominant and when she gets on top of Ratel, suddenly… THEY START MAKING OUT???!!! WTF???!!! AM I WATCHING THE RIGHT SHOW?! No kidding, they’re really doing it! Hot girls sex, check. Lesbian sex, check. Furry sex, check. Yeah, all the guys love it. Turns out that Kari Rikujo AKA Brute Civet has been unleashing love pheromones. Gecko has the misfortune to encounter Taiga. She thinks she has the advantage if she transforms but before she can do that, Taiga kills her! With that, Sumitomo is out of the game. We return to our regular hot girl lesbian furry sex. Until Yoko puts her feet down and warns to continue the game. Wow. Everybody respects her to move on? We hear her narration that her goal in winning Destroyal is so that she could get back her grandpa’s heart whom she believed has been trapped by Shidou. He is now obsessed with this Killing Bites thing ever since and her wish is to return him to the kind grandpa she once knew. When Eruza wants Ratel to come with her (or is it cum?), Ratel believes she heard that word before. Oh, Shidou said it to her. Immediately she snaps out because she realizes that is the person whom she wants to come with (or is it cum?). She attacks Civet but she evades long enough till Taiga drops into the scene.

Episode 8
In a VIP room, the bosses of the Zaibatsu are discussing the stakes of Destroyal. Whoever wins it will take all the rights to the Theriomorphosis industry and related businesses. On the surface it might look like some gene research thingy on crops but in reality it would legalize the surgery for Therianthropes. However the biggest winner of Destroyal would be none from any of the Zaibatsu but Shidou and his administration as their department has all the power and technology in this area. Ui continues to run like hell from Gorilla. Yeah, it would look bad if she was to be raped with those gigantic hands. In his bid to catch up to her, he smashes down all the trees to block all the burrowed holes. However this incurs Kido’s wrath. Oops. Don’t bully nature. Gorilla panics and thinks of knocking him out and run. But whatever he throws at him, nothing happens. In one fell swoop, Kido cuts him in half! Did Mitsukado just take out one of its own? Not that Yoko cares anyway. Thank goodness Kido is ordered to move or Ui would have been dead rabbit meat. We return to Ratel and Taiga’s power fight. Cobra is barely alive. At least his top half. He tries to intervene but fails. Ratel forces the camera crew to send him to hospital and patch him up. Saving him? But what if he comes back to kill you? Then she’ll just kill him again. WTF. You failed to kill him the first time, right? Anyway, Taiga agrees seeing sparing the life is the privilege of the strong. Flashback shows Taiga and Leo had a very hot rivalry. Yeah, it looked like they came from delinquent schools from very bad parts of town. Obviously Leo was strongly and he did not even have to fight Taiga. He even gave him a chance to become strong so that he will acknowledge him as a worthy opponent. Therefore Taiga will never acknowledge Ratel’s fluke win over Leo as he will only respond with his full strength to those he acknowledges. Cue for cliché hint that he is the only one who can defeat Leo. Taiga gets serious in using his speed and strength to take out Ratel in a single blow. She manages to dodge the lethal blow and survive. Come at her again, bro.

Episode 9
The reason why we have to hear Nomoto narrate his drifting and boring life is so that this should play some ‘important’ part in today’s episode. Get on with Destroyal already. Ratel takes another hit from Taiga and still survives. It seems she is trying to estimate his attacks and she is confident she has analysed them. Taiga now acknowledges her skill and strength and to respect that, his next ultimate move will kill her in one blow. Before it begins, Ui interrupts to warn about Kido. Then she sees how fierce Taiga is and runs like hell, only to be incapacitated by Civet’s pheromones. Bunny wants to f*ck? Everybody especially Yoko is blaming and accusing Nomoto will be responsible for Ratels’ death. It makes him panic at first and questioning what he is doing here in the first place. Don’t worry. He’ll find the answer soon. He realizes his life changed because of her and she has saved him many times. So when it is his turn to move, he has Ratel stay at her spot. He will take responsibility for his decision. He might sound so cool and all but Yoko is not buying it and just mocks he won’t regret it (she thinks he will) and cry later. Taiga and Ratel leap into action only to be interrupted again. It’s Kido. Ratel is temporarily knocked out by his armoured tail. It seems all this is calculated by Yoko. In hopes of defeating Taiga, she used Ratel to keep him company here. Also, this open spot means Kido will be able to focus on fighting instead of protecting the trees. Flashback sees how Yoko got him under her wing. She told him Shidou’s experiments harmed nature and the result of this was the creation of Ratel. Hence he agreed to follow his calling to return this abomination to nature and protect the natural order. Ui escapes from Civet’s grasp by luring her into an endless pit and then burying it! Don’t think rabbits are stupid and good for multiplying. Ratel is pounded by Kido. Before she is done in, Taiga returns the favour of secretly ambushing him. Taiga goes on the offensive but none of his claws could dent his armour all over his body. It is revealed that Kido is Brute Pangolin. Man, in his true form he looks like some badass armoured god or something.

Episode 10
Kido balls up into a defensive position. Taiga keeps hitting it until he thinks there is an opening. But it is a trap to grab his hand and tear it off! Before he gets owned, Okajima jumps into the fray. Although he could match Kido’s strength, his skin isn’t as hard and gets stabbed. This allows Taiga to revive and tear off Kido’s right eye! But in exchange he too gets stabbed. With that, Yoko jumps the gun to brag how superior Mitsukado is and everyone is second rate. Counting her chickens? Eruza intends to fight Kido. I mean, even if she is faster can she stand a chance? No need for that because Ratel revives in time. But she has evolved into her true form! Shidou narrates she is an Origin beast. Unlike other Therianthropes who undergo surgery, she is born with its natural DNA. We interrupt this programme to bring you Shidou’s flashback 7 years ago in Hong Kong. There was some wild animal kid whose real origins are unknown, kept stealing food from the locals. Shidou knew she is an Origin and tried to lure her with food. Lots of them. It sure took a lot of scratching and beating up before he could get close to her. Even so, she maintained her distance. As she is capable of human emotions and understanding, he calls her Hitomi as he could see all that in her eye. Apparently on the night Hitomi could say his name for the first time, Shidou’s colleague has had enough of him playing daddy and fires a tranquilizer at her. Though she runs, she soon collapses. Bad news, she collapsed at the local mafia’s place and she has been stealing a lot from them. When Shidou finds her, he tries to negotiate but gets beaten up. Hitomi sees Shidou getting beaten up as he shields her. I’m not sure if those punks are speaking Chinese because their accent sound so thick and foreign like Russian. Anyway, Shidou could have been done for had not Shinozaki kung fu kick her way to save them. It was then Hitomi started to click with Shidou and went from being an animal to human. Noting she won’t survive if she abandons her animal instincts, he needs her to sharpen her fangs at Destroyal. Ratel is faster than the naked eye and could knock Kido off his feet. She is ecstatic he is tough, sturdy and not break easily so she could toy with him even more. Did the real monster just awaken?

Episode 11
Ratel is like having fun fighting Kido. When she deals him a painful blow, he curls up into a defensive position. Ratel kicks him like a football. Kido realizes he has destroyed a few trees. Flashback shows his mom somewhat left the family and left him a pot of plants as her substitute to take care in place of her. Kido did that but his drunk dad destroyed it while claiming mom was a slut, etc. In his rage, he killed his father. This means it is Kido’s turn to evolve into another super pangolin. Anybody who bullies his mama will die! His scales are sharper and now he is destroying trees without regards in his attempt to kill Ratel. He manages to cut off an arm of her, causing immense pain. However she will not give in to death so she throws her arm into his head as distraction and then jumps up closely to his face. Her gentle smile reminds Kido of his mom. He lets his guard down and Ratel thrusts her arm through his face! Yoko is left furious and embarrassed since she counted her chickens. Ratel collapses from exhaustion but has a happy look on her face. However Kido gets up! Is he a zombie now since his brains are all smashed?! That is when Eruza slices his throat. That’s the end of him for good. Second time Yoko going berserk in the span of seconds. Eruza will spare Ratel’s life as respect for taking on Kido. But now she is off to face Ui who really thinks she is going to get f*cked. There is no way a rabbit could beat or outrun a cheetah, right? She runs as fast but Eruza is on her tail. But Ui slips on a rock and accidentally does a somersault kick into Eruza’s chin, knocking her out. OMG! Ui as the last Brute standing wins Destroyal???!!! WTF???!!! The one who hardly did any fighting or gets her paws dirty won???!!! No wonder everybody is in shock. No wonder Yoko has gone crazy. With the win, the Zaibatsu bosses are now discussing things but the Ishida boss becomes cocky since he is the winner. Sumitomo boss believes Yatsubishi and Ishida colluded with each other since they had better board positions and dice rolls. But the outcome is the outcome. Suddenly all electricity is cut off. Nomoto is worried about Hitomi. On the island, it seems all camera crew are mercilessly killed by… Chameleon people???!!! They plan to kill off all surviving Brutes and officially there will be no winners of Destroyal. Everything will be lost in the shadows and only they will know the truths.

Episode 12
Ui’s sharp hearing has her evade the chameleon’s tongue lash. Lucky for her, Ratel is still able to fight and kill a couple of them although she is back to collapsing. Before the remaining chameleons could finish them off, Shinozaki kills all of them. She is here to interview Ui as the winner. You shocked, sister? Meanwhile Shidou confronts Sumitomo’s boss and knows those chameleons are his stealth assassins. He does not hesitate to admit he did this to nullify the results and make use of this ensuing chaos. Just as his secretary is about to transform and kill off everyone, Leo kills him. Shidou also points out Yozan is also another one who committed a sin. Because he controls Japan’s economy, instead of using the Theriomorphosis technology to benefit everyone, he used it to benefit only himself and his Zaibatsu. Before Yozan could rebel, Leo kills him! Oh sh*t! Yoko wonders how she will face grandpa when she sees his bloody corpse. Shidou says he died of a heart attack. Of course she is not blind and knows he is killed. So they admit about some their plan of theirs and killing him is the best way to minimise casualties. Yoko orders Leo to kill them all but he will not listen. Leo only serves himself. She is left in shock as Leo deals the final blow to her. How does it feel to use others as pawns and now she is being used as one? In order to force her into his submission, he rapes her! OMFG!!!

Life returns to normal for Nomoto. It has been 2 weeks Hitomi and Okajima left. Quiet days are here. He has a few suitcases of money that prove Destroyal happened but he is too afraid of opening them. Out of the blue, he gets a call from Hitomi to meet. At the junkyard, he is glad to see her recovering. Looks like they patched her arm back too. He starts off first by thanking her for everything. He now understands what it means to have the sharpest fangs. It is not to run but to stand and fight and the fangs represent the will to fight. Hitomi is embarrassed because it sounded like he was confessing to her. Now it’s her turn to thank him for sticking with her till the end. And just when you think the mood is getting good between them, SHE SLASHES HIM!!! OMFG!!! WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING!!! SHE REALLY KILLED HIM!!! It seems it was orders from Shidou. He told her his existence would be a nuisance. She leaves and as proof she did have some sort of feelings for him (even if it is not of the romantic kind), she sheds a few tears. We now have a time skip in which there is an entirely new district, an artificial island on Tokyo Bay specially built for Therianthropes. There is an arena in the middle of it for Killing Bites. We see a bunch of new Therianthrope hopefuls as the next tournament is around the corner. Hey wait. Is that guy at the end, Nomoto?!

Bloody Roar: Beast Wars!
I have to admit that I actually enjoyed watching this series. Yes it was fun. Fun enough that I thought having a dozen episodes was too short and it should have 2 cours! Yeah… Perhaps it was my initial scepticism that made me have very low expectations of this series. I mean, people transform into a certain animal, fight it out, victor triumphs over loser. Basically that is what the series is but I suppose they put in some interesting animal section and bits and that’s why I find it interesting overall.

But of course this series might be good but it is not a masterpiece and I would rate it above average. This is because of the very lengthy Destroyal arc that accounts for more than half of the series. It could just well be a Destroyal arc since after the quick introduction arc, we get down to what this series is all about. I don’t think a single tournament dictates would the winning Zaibatsu absolute power as with big boys playing a big risky game like this, there would have to be more of such tournaments to test their mettle. After all, there could be other bigger tournaments and this Destroyal is just one of the mini ones akin to the dessert of the main course. While it is fun to see several Brutes fighting each other, but they really drag it out with this Destroyal arc tournament. Of course they build up the main character as well as showcase some fight scenes but such long fighting arcs only remind me of Dragonball and One Piece where it looks like it takes forever just to finish a fight. It could have finished a bit faster but then when you consider the pacing, what is left there to show after Destroyal? I guess this is much better than hanging halfway in another tournament. That’s why I said this needed to be 2 cours.

One of the tantalizing draws of this series is of course the fighting scenes involving different types of Therianthropes. Although their powers and skills are somewhat exaggerated, this is all based on actual animal abilities. I mean, when you have genetically engineered and enhanced humans, surely their animal powers would be enhanced too. Well, at least they are not making those Brutes shoot hadoken or fireballs. Good thing or bad thing that dragons and unicorns don’t really exist, just saying… Making the action sequences interesting to watch is how sometimes the narrator would narrate interesting trivia about that particular animal. Yeah, it is like watching a mini National Geographic channel sometimes. Interesting. Thanks to this series, now I know what a ratel is and how ferocious one can be. Yeah, before that I never knew such animal existed! Heck, I was wondering what the f*ck was this wolverine/skunk/badger creature is.

And of course the other draw is the mild ecchi moments. Because Hitomi prefers going around in her singlet and undies, this sexy beast is your main source of ecchi fanservice. If tough kickass badass Hitomi/Ratel is not your type, I guess we have cat girl, Eruza. Sort of. Furry fetish fans might get a little teasing after that Hitomi-Eruza make out during Destroyal. Like as though it was the moment we have all been waiting for. It would be a waste not to have hot sexy girls get lesbian with each other, right? But sorry, not extreme furry hentai. If you’re not into such tough chicks, maybe rabbit girl Ui would be your type. Heck, all Therianthropes females are just sexy. Even Gecko. Until she transforms into one.

Can’t say much about the characters except that since Hitomi is the main character, we have a lot of screen time on her and even a flashback episode of her origin. Because Nomoto feels like a side supporting extra character that isn’t exactly needed. He just exists so that we could see and compare how Hitomi’s life has changed after he meets a gentle wimp. It is also to show that Nomoto isn’t a total loser despite just doing average in college. He’s got a coveted piece like Ratel and for his case of playing with the big boys is like a rabbit walking in a den of lions. So out of place. So sugoi. But still a wuss nevertheless. If this guy goes for Therianthropes surgery, his animal would be a cat. Because you know, he’s a pussy. Haha!!! He isn’t main character material so much so he gets killed off!!! OMG. That was really the shocker. Didn’t see that one coming.

But I don’t know if this guy has returned in the end because it certainly looks like a meaner him. After all, Hitomi didn’t exactly ‘kill’ him. The old Nomoto ‘died’ and a new one underwent a surgery to become a Therianthrope. That is the only way he could continue to be alive. I believe this is how the plot flows along more of this line. Otherwise, even though Nomoto isn’t pretty much that likeable (not that you would hate him) but he isn’t the kind of guy whom you would like the see being killed off after all that has happened. I would like to say that Nomoto and Hitomi complement and change each other although it is the latter who seems to be dominating and wearing the pants (or pantsu in her case) around. I know Hitomi is such a badass but she starts getting a bit annoying with her ‘favourite quote’ when she keeps reminding us about that sharpest fangs thingy wins because this is what Killing Bites. Yeah, for the umpteenth time, roll credits. We get it already!

If Nomoto feels out of place, the same can be said about Ui. Because as we know that Destroyal is one big tough mother sh*t death battle and to cast such a weakling just to fulfil the quota seems strange. Yeah, it’s like the producers thought that they needed another character who will not outshine Ratel in the tournament but also does enough and small supporting bits here and there whenever the convenient plot and flow of the story calls for it. To add insult, they make her win Destroyal! WTF???!!! It wasn’t the strongest. It wasn’t the fastest. It wasn’t the most durable. It wasn’t the smartest. Heck, it wasn’t the one even with the sharpest fangs! It all boils down to luck. Isn’t that what a rabbit foot is? And boy, you thought Ui was going to be a comical character in Destroyal, digging holes the only way she knows best, screaming and running away from stronger and scarier Brutes who look like they’re out to rape her once she is in her sight, and then boom! A fluke shot has her win this entire tournament. Without even bloodying her paws! Yeah, it feels like one of those strategies where the weakest waits in the shadows, waiting for all the strong ones to finish and take out each other before going for the final kill. Saves time, saves energy. Rules are still rules. Last one standing takes it all.

I also want to mention something about that crazy snob b*tch, Yoko. We know she is taking part in all of this is so that she could win back the kind grandfather she once knew. But the ironic and mind boggling part of it all is that in order to turn back her grandfather (assuming this method works), she herself turns into a bloodthirsty thrill seeker just like him. I am pretty sure this isn’t the way of fighting fire with fire. Perhaps this all part of Yozan’s plan to groom her to become the next heir and she is unknowingly dancing in the palm of his hands. Or is this her way of taking over and becoming the next maniac in place of her grandpa? Too bad her grandpa died. Either way, that guy looks like he is ready to kick the bucket in a few more years.

Because she is so snobbish and acts like she knows it all before Nomoto, I was hoping to see her break down and perhaps even starting to fall for this wuss! Imagine looking down on someone she thinks lacks everything only to find that she herself has fared much worse. Her breakdown would be complete after her crazy mind decides that Nomoto is quite a strong guy himself and hence she would start throwing herself all at him! More cat fight with Ratel then. Oh yeah, the fight for Nomoto begins! Ironically, strong women fighting over a weak guy? Only happens in male fantasies-cum-delusions. But too bad the old Nomoto won’t be around for that. She would have become Leo’s sex slave under his new lion male pride harem by then. Just desserts? In a way, I feel pity for her fate to turn out like that. Well, you get what you give.

Shidou continues to remain a mysterious and enigmatic character. He looks like a good guy seeing he treats Hitomi kind and like a family member. But I can’t help think that there is an ulterior motive to it all. I mean, if you think about it, what does he plan to achieve in the research and development of Therianthropes? Does he want to rule the world with his army of mind controlled Therianthropes? Or by a long shot does he intend to find a cure for man’s deadliest disease and having humans undergo such risky surgery is one of its convoluted steps. Even though his plan to bring a world for Therianthropes sounds noble and great, there seems to be more than meets the eye to it. Perhaps in the near future, more revelations and bombshells regarding Shidou’s true colours will be revealed. Especially one I am having a conspiracy theory that will have all her trust and faith for him destroyed and she begin her next stage of evolution as she fights against him instead of being his darling. Hey, this series already has a few shockers and I believe there will be more. Just expecting the unexpected, that’s all.

This series also has a funny segment although it is not part of the main episode and right before the next episode preview, Guide Them Oshie-chan. Oshie Nodoguro is supposedly Hitomi’s classmate and perhaps self-proclaimed best friend. Her character is supposed to take after that honeyguide bird as this segment also doubles as a documentary for it. We learn the characteristics as well as its somewhat symbiotic relationship with the ratel. However in the end whatever Oshie does she fails or her plans backfire and hence cue the punchline of this segment: Because however Oshie isn’t a Therianthrope.

Art and animation feel decent. Certain Brute designs feel a bit weird like Taiga who looks more of a monster cat than anything a tiger. And Eruza looks more like Tarzan girl than anything cheetah. Uhm maybe too sexy for me to notice. After all, cheetahs are skinny and lanky among the feline species. And sorry, she isn’t exactly Kemono Friends material either. I know seeing Okajima’s sumo built makes him having a character of brute raw strength but because his face look like an owl, I keep thinking he should have been an owl too! Okay, maybe sticking to being a hippo is better. Gorilla feels like his oversized arms make the rest of his body hanging. It’s so odd. Like as though he skipped a leg day.

CGI is used but not as often. Mostly used when Kido transforms into his godly pangolin form. Not as bad but still the jarring is a bit obvious. There are also blood and gore so if your furry fetish isn’t strong enough to overcome this, you won’t be fapping to this anytime. This is also what I observed. How come male Brutes are able to transform many of their body parts into animals (if not their entire body) while the females only a few parts transformed and the remaining naughty bits as human? Damn the chances of jerking off are too damn high! This series is animated by Lindefilms who did Yamada And The Seven Witches, Koi To Uso, the Arslan Senki remake and Miss Monochrome.

Voice acting I only recognize Rikiya Koyama as Shidou and Yuuichi Nakamura as Taiga. The rest are Sora Amamiya as Hitomi/Ratel (titular character in Akame Ga Kill), Wataru Hatano as Nomoto (Gajeel in Fairy Tail), Maaya Uchida as Eruza (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Sumire Uesaka as Ui (Aletta in Isekai Shokudou), Megumi Han as Yoko (Jeanne in Shingeki No Bahamut series), Ryoukan Koyanagi as Kido (Ottarl in DanMachi series), Tooru Okawa as Okajima (Gordes in Fate/Apocrypha) and Sayaka Harada as Oshie (Chiya in Urara Meirochou).

Chinatsu Akasaki as Shinozaki as absolutely the craziest. Although she voiced weird characters like Yasuna from Kill Me Baby, Alice from Shokugeki No Souma and Shinka from Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai, none has matched the exuberance and passion from this Shinozaki character. As the emcee for Destroyal, you can hear her scream with a passion as she narrates to the excited audience the ongoing death battles. Even more so when she narrates the next episode preview. It’s like she is having an orgasm as she passionately shrieks at the top of her voice. Like as though this is the most exciting thing she has ever witnessed or the only thing in life that she looks forward to. Kudos and hats off to her for making that Shinozaki character really sound excitedly crazy. It’s showdown!

The hard rock based opening theme that is the same name of this series suits the action. As this is sung by Fripside, don’t expect all that techno trademark that you would normally hear in To Aru Kagatsu No Railgun, Black Bullet and Clockwork Planet. Though, the rock beat style is still pretty familiar. More hard rock music for your soul as the ending theme is one too, Kedamono Damono by Kitsunesuki. Also, more chances for your horny libido as we see the females in the series in very sexy poses and outfits, increasing your masturbating chances and even more if you are a furry lover. Damn if they could make such women so hot and sexy looking, why the f*ck do they need to turn them into beasts?! Just turn them into absolutely stunning human babes!!! Yeah, I’m not really a furry fan that’s why I’m thinking so.

Overall, even this series is garbage, it was still fun and enjoyable for me in the trashiest sense. So bad that it is even good? Well, even before watching this show and reading the synopsis I knew it wasn’t going to be Oscar material or a classic Japanese masterpiece. But still want another season nevertheless. Animal action scenes and sexy animal babes that are not 100% furry are what attracted me. After all, you need to watch so many crap animes first before hitting a good one. It would really be the ultimate Killing Bites if there was a character would turn into a penguin or panda! Or even a hamster! Nobody hates such cute creatures, right? Oh yeah, I would pay to watch that one and put all my money on them to win. Screw your sharpest fangs wins them all. The one which is cutest wins! That is Cutie Bites!

Ousama Game

March 3, 2018

I want to play a game. But not many would dare play the Ouija board because of its supernatural context whether you believe it or not. So we go play a safer game. Something like Truth or Dare. Something like King’s game AKA Ousama Game. Ah, what a harmless game to play, right? All you have to do is obey what the ‘king’ says otherwise the penalty for non-obedience is some little punishment. No harm done. Boring, you say? How about we make death as the penalty non-obedience. You don’t obey, you die! Hahaha! Don’t believe me? Just wait and see till your friends die in a horrific fashion in 3, 2, 1… BLOODY DEATH!!! Now you believe?! Feeling scared now, are we? You can’t quit this game no matter what and there can only be one survivor. Are you ready? Ready or not, first order is here…

Episode 1
Nobuaki Kanazawa is a new transfer student. Natsuko Honda quickly befriends him but he is always sad and distant. When others try to make friends with him, he tells them to leave him alone. Then for the sports festival, Natsuko invites him to run a relay race since she is the fastest anchor. At first he was sceptical but after hearing about Natsuko’s parents’ tragic death, he accepts. They won the race and Nobuaki thinks life will resume to be normal for him. That is, until he gets a text from the King. When he comes to class, everyone also has this message and thinks it is a prank (Nobuaki is to kiss Natsuko). When he tries to tell them the dangers of this game, they find him disgusting and stop being friendly. Nobuaki could only lament this is exactly the same reaction like the last time. Later Aimi Murazumi wants to help Nobuaki to hook up with Natsuko but he dismisses her effort and makes her upset. Nobuaki has resigned to himself that he is going to die and might as well be the first one to do so. But does he have the right to bring down Natsuko with him? It will be soon 24 hours before the punishment is exacted (the task must be carried out by then) when Natsuko surprisingly pops up before him. First she asks if he likes someone. There was a girl. He tries to push her away but she is adamant to see this through. She admits she likes him the first time she saw him and kisses him. Nobuaki feels strange (not because of the kiss) because the punishment hasn’t come. He realizes he screwed up as he thought the text from Aimi was the punishment text. Scrolling past all the texts, he finally sees the text from the King. It seems if anyone sleeps, they will die via hanging. Nobuaki frantically tries to get Natsuko to call all their other classmates while he heads to the nearest home of one of the classmates. Too late, he is already dead. With a few deaths already, all the frightened classmates who are gathered at the park seek answers. Nobuaki reveals he knows all about this because he played it before and is the only survivor. This prompts Aimi to chide him if he knew the risk and didn’t want to kiss Natsuko, it means he wanted her dead, right? Right. Everybody gets mad and some of the guys beat the crap out of him. They even think he is in cohorts with the serial killer whatsoever. Then another text comes in. One of those guys will bleed to death for disobeying the King’s orders. He starts bleeding and his innards explode!!!

Episode 2
Seeing is believing. So does this mean Natsuko will die if she doesn’t have sex with Teruaki Nagata? Time for some flashback of how gruesome the game is. When it first started, everyone thought it was some sexual harassment prank because some guy needed to grope a girl’s boobs. With the girls being disgusted, it was eventually not followed through. The next day, everyone is shocked both of them died via hanging just as mentioned in the text. It leaves everyone in shock and confused. Some in anger especially Shouta Yahiro because his girlfriend, Misaki Nakajima is to have sex with Daisuke Tasaki. In fear of the game, they eventually did it and this has Shouta beat him to a pulp. Because Shouta is currently the King, he orders Daisuke to die via hanging. It leaves him traumatized so Nobuaki talks to him to brush this off. They talk about their dreams as Nobuaki learns Daisuke wants to be a musician instead of following his father as a doctor. Daisuke then brings him to his big rich mansion where they jam and rock till midnight. See, nothing happened. Hooray! Nobuaki then gets a call from his girlfriend, Chiemi Honda worried about Daisuke. No worries. He is alright. Till a text comes in confirming Daisuke’s obedience. He hanged himself. And so Nobuaki tells everyone the need to cooperate if they are to survive this. Natsuko is terrified and doesn’t want to have sex other than the person she loves but terrified Teruaki makes it look like she is going to rape her. Suddenly Natsuko changes. She is through pretending and strips herself. She’s going to do it right here in front of everyone. She swears to survive this game. Oddly, Nobuaki who told her to decide about having sex is stopping her from doing so? No wonder she’s pissed off calling him a hypocrite. Since he is still annoying, she takes him somewhere to talk. She berates his idea of wanting to save everyone when it is human nature to just want to save themselves. She believes he backstabbed his friends to survive. Natsuko then cries rape. Easy. Nobody believes Nobuaki and he gets beaten up again. Because Mizuki Yukimura is the current King, Natsuko wants her to order Nobuaki to die. Don’t worry, it’s not like she is killing him. She’s just sending a text. While everyone is scared at Natsuko’s sudden change in character, nobody is giving a f*ck at Nobuaki pleading for help. Till Kenta Akamatsu calls out looking for him.

Episode 3
Nobody dares mess with Kenta as he seeks an explanation who beat Nobuaki up. Natsuko then wants Mizuki to also send a text to kill Kenta. Mizuki is distraught in what to do when Nobuaki agrees she puts his name but also the other name should be Natsuko. Even more distraught now, she won’t even do it. Kenta will bring Nobuaki for treatment. Mizuki tags along but when Natsuko also wants to, Kenta slaps her! It seems Kenta has got a message from the King too that he must give an order to his class that must be followed. He promises he will send himself an order to protect Mizuki and save her life. To further elaborate how scary this game, Nobuaki continues his past. After Daisuke’s death, everyone is in shock. Another message from the King telling the class to hold a popularity contest between Kana Ueda and Naoya Hashimoto. The least popular one will be punished. Everyone is torn on who to vote because the loser will die. So it becomes an intense fishing for votes as Nobuaki pleads to the class to save his best friend’s life. Because Kana’s friends aren’t too sure about voting her too, she decides to whore herself to get some of the votes. Shouta regrets his actions but can’t help think their actions will be no different. Nobuaki tells him even if they kill someone, they would also save someone. After the votes are counted, Naoya beats Kana by a single vote. She becomes so enraged that she jumps out of the window! Though she survives and is in ICU, her punishment is to confess to the person she likes. Of course she dies before she could do that and shockingly Naoya has to obey an order in her stead. That is, to have sex with somebody. Quickly Nobuaki sets up his best friend and girlfriend to make out. This is so twisted. And time is running out. Naoya would rather die than betray both his friends so Nobuaki knocks him out so that Chiemi could do the necessary. Can a guy maintain erection when he is out? Obedience is complied. Nobuaki confirms himself as the worst man alive as Chiemi has him promise he won’t die before her. Kenta views Nobuaki as a good and the one to blame for all this is the King. He did what he could to save others and has lost a lot of important things in his life. So stop crying and save it for the joyful moments. Nobuaki seems to have dropped his handphone at the park and Natsuko picks it up. Uh oh…

Episode 4
Nobuaki believes there is a village where this game originated. He thinks of going there to find clues on how to stop it. Kenta and Mizuki agree to go with him next morning. They discuss on the King’s identity and Nobuaki knows it is not among the classmates. He thought it was so previously but was wrong. Flashback shows Nami Hirano got an order to do something for herself and she had herself touch the King. This is her plan to smoke out the culprit behind this as an obedience text is sent once it is confirmed. But what if the King is not among them? Don’t worry. Nami believes Nobuaki’s theory is right. So they start with the boys first. None. Then the girls. Ria Iwamura is the most suspicious as she is the most distant classmate. Before Nami touches her, she claims she is the King. But she tells Nobuaki that doing so won’t end the game. The only way is to kill the King. Can he do it? This puts some serious doubts in his head. When Nami touches Ria, nothing happens. The subsequent girls too are cleared. Nami becomes distraught and runs away. Nobuaki chases after her and accompanies her as she wishes till midnight. Nobuaki doesn’t want her to bear all the burden since it is his fault to begin with. When midnight strikes, Nami is punished as she becomes blind. Nobuaki receives a subsequent text that he must lose something important. But he doesn’t tell this to Nami. Oddly for a blind girl, how can Nobuaki lose sight of her?! Yeah, she is at the beach preparing to drown herself. She calls Nobuaki to confirm if she is important to him. Of course. He goes home to wreck everything. I guess material possessions aren’t that important, huh? Then he calls Chiemi and insults her so that she could break up with him. By this time, Nami can’t stand it all anymore. Bye. When Nobuaki reaches the beach, only Nami’s footprints into the sea. So Nami became one with the waves? Sorry, bad pun. Oddly, for a blind girl, how can she write her confession on the sand so perfectly?

Episode 5
Ria mocks the irony of Nami’s death. She wasn’t punished to die but yet killed herself. Nobuaki gets rough on her. She maintains she is the King and Nami didn’t exactly touched her. She made Nami touched her instead. Oh, technicalities? She dares him to kill her. He will. Only when he confirms she is really the King. That’s when she zaps him with a taser. She reveals she isn’t the real King because he would be dead by now. She was just testing his resolve if he was ready to fight the King. Guess not. Why is Ria doing this? To have fun. She is going to beat this game and defeat the King. Nobuaki believes there is another way to beat this game without more deaths. They’ll each do what they think it’s right. Just when Nobuaki has lost all hope, Yousuke Ueda calls him and has found a clue to this game. It seems all the dead victims receive an additional text but with just a character. This gives Nobuaki some hope as he asks about Ria. Yousuke isn’t too sure about her except that she was once a cheerful girl until she got raped by her dad. Shortly, a text from the King comes in. Don’t do anything unnecessary. Right after that a few people will die for disobedience. One of them is Shouta. Nobuaki tries calling him. He is suffocating to death and his last word is something about blocking. This has Nobuaki think you can’t block or cancel your subscription. So as he calls others to warn about this, instantly they get a punishment notice! They didn’t do anything and they’ll die?! Nobuaki realizes what unnecessary means is that you can’t cry! Damn, people are going to drop like flies. Amazingly Nobuaki who is always looking like he is going to cry from all the trauma manages to hold back his tears. He gets a call from Yousuke getting a major clue. He has found news clips where this game originated, Yonaki Village. He wants him to head there but Nobuaki has given up. But Yousuke can’t do it too. His time is up. Yup, he cried. He hopes Nobuaki will take care of his girlfriend, Kaori Maruoka. Yousuke manages to send important data to him before his body gets torn apart. Later, Nobuaki gets knocked out by someone. He wakes up in a storeroom and is confronted by Kaori who is mad as his lies. She tried to call Yousuke but he didn’t pick up. So when Nobuaki called her and assured everything was alright (technically at that point he wasn’t lying), she believes he is the King. Nobuaki argues how much Yousuke is doing to help this game and his feelings for her, blah, blah, blah. She frees him but soon collapses. Which girl wouldn’t get emotional after hearing words from her boyfriend even though it is from a third party?

Episode 6
Naoya is worried about Nobuaki when he gets a call from Toshiyuki Abe and Keita Yamashita about the next King’s order. It seems there are 10 of them left and one of them must roll the die. The number correspondences to how many of them will die. The name via the roller’s choice. Oh, the roller will also have to die. If nobody rolls or gets named, everyone dies. Ria then calls for everyone to meet. At this point, one of them is unable to come because she is in hospital after attempting to kill herself. It becomes a heated discussion between Toshiyuki and Chia Kawano because they hate each other and hope the other will be called. Toshiyuki then tries to convince Toshiyuki Fujioka to roll the die and save him because everyone will name him first. Nobuaki stops him in time and since this disappoints the bully and reveals his true colours, he takes Chiemi hostage. Everyone do as he says or he’ll kill her. He shows how crazy he is and stabs her thigh. He wants either Nobuaki or Naoya to give the order. Nobuaki is willing to do it but Naoya usurps him and rolls. Well, all be damned. A 6 is rolled. The maximum number! Naoya accidentally names Keita and his head decapitated! With pressure from Toshiyuki the bully, he names the other girls (including the one in the hospital). Toshiyuki then punches the bully and tells Naoya to name both of them. After that, Naoya’s limbs start to rip itself off! Cue for emotional farewell. Ria then moves to take down the King before midnight. As she was also researching the game, she was able to get closer by adding Yousuke’s data. Yonaki Village was the first that recorded mass deaths. A group of scientists deduced some sort of virus is responsible for this. Something about the effects of hypnosis and how powerful suggestions could cause reactions and deaths. Since it wasn’t eliminated, the virus went on the spread itself over the internet. Wait a minute. An organism virus became a digital virus? WTF?! Ria couldn’t complete the words left by the deceased so she created an anti-virus programme to eradicate it. Yeah, genius hacker makes it look so easy. Then it is too good to be true because a message comes in saying Ria has violated the game and will be burnt to death! OMG! She’s on fire! Human torch, literally. But why is she still working normally and not in pain? Ah, ‘credit’ goes to her father’s daily torture. But of course she can no longer go on as she tells Nobuaki and Chiemi (the only survivors left) that this game gave her a purpose and it made her not want to die. However it is not that she wants to keep living. She just wanted to win this game. She leaves it to the duo to defeat the King. Duh. Who else is there left? Bye.

Episode 7
Nobuaki and co finally reach Yonaki Village. With Mizuki’s looming order, Kenta wonders who should be the ones named. Without hesitating, Nobuaki says Natsuko and Haruka Momoki. The latter because there was an order for her boobs to be touched but that person is already dead so she is as good as dead too. Kenta disagrees because to him all life is precious. In this abandoned village, there is a house formerly occupied by the Honda family. Nobuaki goes in to investigate and sees a picture of Chiemi and her father. Could it be her dad was a participant in this game? More baffling, father left an apology letter to her. Then there is another picture of a younger father carrying 2 babies. He thinks father killed himself for dragging Chiemi into the game. Nobuaki sees behind the picture the names of Chiemi and Natsuko. It makes him wonder if Natsuko is a survivor of the game. When Mizuki goes missing, Kenta goes to find her. A text from the King is received that 7 people are now dead due to disobedience. Just like that. When Mizuki is found, she wants to name Natsuko and herself. Therefore this is goodbye and wants Kenta to tell her she is pretty. It makes him awkward and it makes her sad. But in the heat of things, he hugs and kisses her. Then it gets twisted. Mizuki wants them to die together and make their love eternal! Kenta remains level headed that it is over once you’re dead. There is only love when you’re alive. Not happy, she tries to run away but Kenta knocks her out. Kenta then uses her handphone to type in the names but uses her finger to send. Technically that counts as her sending, right? When Nobuaki finds them, he is disheartened to learn Kenta will die. Because of the promise he made to protect Mizuki, if she dies, he dies. Looks like Kenta and Mizuki will also die for disobeying orders. Kenta struggles as he tries to reach Mizuki who has just woke up. They both reach out to each other but drop dead. Sad Nobuaki lines up their dead body together, commending Kenta as an amazing guy for putting his life on the line to protect others. He gave him hope. Nobuaki gets a call from himself. It is actually b*tch Natsuko on the line and she is mocking if Kenta and Mizuki are still alive.

Episode 8
Natsuko claims she has been waiting for the text that says Mizuki is dead. The moment she got it, she quickly f*cked Teruaki as per her King’s order. Wow. It must be a real quickie then. So when her obedience confirmed text was sent, it was to confuse everyone especially Kenta who misunderstood it. So poor boy tried desperately to save her but all in vain. At least they died together. She is going to target Nobuaki next. Teruaki needs to warn the others about Natsuko’s insanity but gets his handphone confiscated and a threatening warning. This b*tch is crazy! Nobuaki reads a journal of a participant of the game in Yonaki Village. It states that the single letters sent to handphones after a person dies is some sort of mutation that not even the King predicted. It is the key to end this game. Huh? He gets a call from Riona Matsumoto to meet. Because she has some information, she thinks she can be bossy over him? Anyway, she was researching the game too and found and article of something similar in another school. Natsuko came from this school. She also stumbled across Ria’s name. She has Nobuaki explain who she is as well as the letters sent to the dead. Riona breathes some good news because it looks like all the letters from the previous games are the same. Their meeting is cut short when Natsuko is here to gather all of them at the park for the next King’s game. A game to kill him. Nobuaki confirms with her that she was a previous participant and that she killed everyone including those precious to her to stay alive. He mentions Chiemi’s name as well as his relationship to her. The sisters could have been separated since young. Natsuko is shocked although she brushes off his dumb talk thinking he thought he could get away just because she is related to his late girlfriend. With 11 survivors left, this game involves breaking any number of your own fingers. Right fingers are +1 while left fingers are -1. You can assign those points to others too. At the end, those with negative points will die! Of course there is an option to pass and nobody has to lose. Going in accordance to the seat numbers, after half of them have passed, it is Teruaki’s turn. But first he talks to Nobuaki and cuts his hair?! Why does it feel like a bad omen when he starts talking about his hair stylist dreams? After Nobuaki’s hair is trimmed and nice, Teruaki breaks a right finger! He has colluded with everyone to get back their handphones and of course Natsuko. He takes a rock to smash all his left fingers!

Episode 9
Unless Natsuko gives back their handphone, he will send all the negative points to her. But even after she does so, Teruaki sends 4 negative points to her, 1 negative point to Aimi and 1 positive point to Nobuaki. This means she and the rest after her have to break their fingers for her if she wants to be saved. Natsuko isn’t willing to break her own fingers and passes. The rest all pass and Aimi is the last one. Natsuko is begging desperately for her to break her own fingers to save her. Aimi looks hesitant so Natsuko breaks it for her! Why isn’t anybody stopping her?! Apparently this was pre-planned. Aimi told Teruaki to give a negative point to her to see if Natsuko would save her. And looks like she didn’t. Natsuko explains in her own twisted fashion how everyone is so pushed to the brink that their mental states are weakened and can’t think straight. Then there’s some flashback how Natsuko became friends with meek Aimi and ‘saved’ her. Aimi is then ‘convinced’ so she dedicates her broken fingers to Natsuko. I mean, at this rate she’ll die and their goal is to avoid anyone dying, right? Having said that, Natsuko breaks Aimi’s thumb so that she could send it to herself and avoid death. Nobuaki asks Aimi’s meaning of friendship. Bond. Yeah, that’s one twisted bond she has. After getting their hands patched up, all of them converge again. Many would like Nobuaki to be the leader and lead them out of this but Natsuko disagrees as only such will get in their way. She wants to challenge Nobuaki before the next order. But Nobuaki laments she hasn’t changed. She snaps back about his half assed ideals when everyone well knows there can only be 1 survivor. So why did she let Aimi live then? To pay back the favour. She needs her for her survival. Looks like Aimi is so trance by her she agrees. Best friends forever, I guess. When midnight strikes, it sees a message comes in that Teruaki will die for disobeying orders. Because he forgot to lock his handphone, Natsuko blocked the King, which is like quitting the game. Teruaki’s neck starts bleeding. A few emotional talk with Nobuaki before his head finally falls off! Natsuko’s theory is that Teruaki might be thinking of dying since his hair stylist dream is as good as dead. The one who can’t take Teruaki’s death is Ryou Sugisawa who still pretends he is alive. Nobuaki notices everyone is breaking down and can’t tell from wrong or right. Their attachment to life is going numb.

Episode 10
The next order is to run to Nuegakubi by foot without the help of any transport. Every 8 hours, the furthest away will be punished. As usual, Natsuko dashes off first. Nobuaki notices Aimi staying behind. So she wants to get killed? He persuades her to tell her piece of mind to Natsuko. It got her running. Meanwhile at the other running pack, while running up the pedestrian bridge, Takuya Sakamoto purposely pushes Masatoshi Ooi down. With him unconscious, Takuya breaks alliance with the rest and goes on his own. The rest are in a dilemma to save Masatoshi but are forced to leave him behind. Nobuaki and Aimi catches up with Riona but since she is still tired and needs to rest, they go ahead and catch up with the group. Nobuaki leaves Aimi with them and after learning what happened to Masatoshi, wait, he’s not going back to save him? But he goes back to get Riona? Luckily Masatoshi somewhat catches up albeit still injured. Nobuaki hears his inner demon (in the form of Natsuko?) telling him to leave the duo behind. He is reminded by Masatoshi he is always caring about others and it makes him hypocritical. No use wasting energy arguing. Just get running. As dawn breaks, Riona is too tired and Masatoshi’s bruises are getting to him. They rest by the cliff but Masatoshi loses consciousness and falls into the sea. Against Riona’s wish, Nobuaki dives in to save him. I don’t think underwater CPR is going to work. Eventually Masatoshi drowns himself. Nobuaki’s morale is at the lowest but the ghost of Kenta, Mizuki and Teruaki force him to not give up. He makes his way to shore where Riona hugs him to transfer her body warmth and also to cry about how worried she was for being left alone. As they make a final dash to Nuegakubi, looks like time is up. Who is the furthest? Is that why Nobuaki pretended his shoelace was untied so that Riona could be ahead of him?

Episode 11
The one who is furthest away from Nuegakubi: Masatoshi. Phew? Riona slaps Nobuaki for pulling that stunt. So, thanks? As they keep running, looks like the next selection is up. Nobuaki suggests doing rock-scissors-paper to decide. Riona at first was against it but choice do they have? She loses. But Nobuaki will run behind her? Apparently he won so he gets to choose. WTF?! She kicks him in his balls! Worse than death! Not sure why she is talking about his next girlfriend who must be better than her? Anyway Nobuaki runs backwards. For a guy to be kicked in the nut like that, he can sure run. However it is Aimi who got punished. It seems she has started running backwards after realizing she needs to repay her thanks to Nobuaki for all the encouragement. Bye. As Nobuaki and Riona race to the goal, he tells her the ending of the previous game. One of them has to kill the other. Nobuaki can’t do it so Chiemi kills herself instead. Guess what reward did the winner have? A choice to either continue the game or get punished! Holy cow! You can’t just win this thing. Natsuko has reached the summit first but she isn’t going to sit there idly. First she changes the sign on the forked path and lures Takuya into a trap she made. Then she breaks his legs and leaves him to die! Next to arrive is Rina Minami. Natsuko tells her to take this route but she doesn’t believe her and goes the opposite. Thing is, Natsuko was telling the truth! Nobuaki and Riona has caught up with Ryou and Aya Matsuoka and try to play catch up. Lost Rina stumbles into Takuya who is pleading for help but she ignores him and lets him die. This is what it feels like when he abandoned Masatoshi, right? Eat your own medicine! Rina then stumbles into lost Yuuna Kobayashi. The latter slips down a cliff and is barely hanging in there. She pleads for Rina’s help. At first she does but decides to change her mind. She’s not going down with her. Bye. When Rina reaches the summit, Natsuko plays psychology with her that she killed many to reach here. Because Natsuko killed her entire class the last time, can Rina do that? Now Rina sees hallucinations of her zombie pals trying to get her. She carelessly runs away and falls off a cliff. Time is almost up as Nobuaki’s side nears the top. But standing before them is Natsuko.

Episode 12
Nobuaki rams Natsuko like a bull! Everyone arrives at the top safely. It seems those who are punished are those Natsuko left for dead. Ryou suddenly knocks out Nobuaki with a rock! It seems the next order is here. They are to cut off each other’s limbs and torso to make a human doll! Basically a group effort but also looks like everybody is still going to die. Ryou has lost it. In his desire to be strong, he is going ahead with this order. Natsuko throws him a chainsaw (where the f*ck did she get it?) and Ryou uses it to cut off his leg!!! Natsuko helps out. Too bad Ryou dies after that. Aya tries to strangle Natsuko but apparently she got sliced in the gut. I’m sure Natsuko would have gone for Nobuaki had he not woke up. He learns what is going on and then all of a sudden, why Natsuko is like being friendly with them? In the sense that Riona and Nobuaki show her the single text messages they have received from the dead. Natsuko also shows them the texts she has collected. She noticed this pattern from the last game. So they pool their texts together and it reads something like the game will not end if one of them survives! Holy cow. So either all of them dies to save humanity or else one of them will be enough as the carrier to spread this virus to others and the game will go on forever. Natsuko is back to her mad b*tch mode. She claims Nobuaki will sacrifice himself to save mankind but she will not. She will do what it takes to survive. She strangles him while explaining how she has been playing the villain all the while because you too would lose your sanity if you see your friends and loved ones die before you. So the reason she ‘hates’ him is because he gave false hope to others by trying to play the saviour? Well, she does have a point there but still.

Perhaps she was so into strangling him that she didn’t hear Riona take the chainsaw and gut her back. Dead. Finally. So we have Nobuaki and Riona having their final cheesy romance because they are so deep into it that before Riona could confess to him, Natsuko got back up and took the chainsaw to slice his throat! I CAN’T BELIEVE NOBODY HEARD THAT UNTIL THE FINAL MOMENTS!!! It’s just ridiculous. Yeah, you deserve to die. Oh, what’s this, Natsuko? Better kill the one you love than have them being killed by others? She won’t let Riona kill him? Oh, so it’s about a boy in the end, eh? Oh Riona, screaming and ordering him not to die won’t make him live. And that’s the end of it. Nobuaki wakes up in what it seems to be heaven. He sees all his dead friends there happily waiting for him. Yeah, now they can go to paradise together. Even Natsuko is there. Heh. Even b*tches like her can go to heaven. Poor lonely Riona. All alone. She drags Nobuaki to the beach where they lie down there ‘romantically’. It’s hard to make out with a corpse. No amount of begging could bring him back to life. So I guess in the end, she takes his body with him and drowns together. Oh sh*t!!! I guess that’s for the best. Hooray! Mankind is saved! Not quite… Because somewhere in Japan, some kid receives the first message from the King that they are about to play this game. Oh sh*t…

Survivor: Outwit, Outlast, Outplay & Out You Go
WTF???!!! TO BE CONTINUES!!! OH NO!!! I DON’T WANT THIS GAME TO CONTINUE!!!! LET IT END, FOR GOD’S SAKES!!! Oh dear. This series that started out interestingly soon became such a mess. My only respite is that finally everybody playing the game is dead. The current one and those in Nobuaki and Natsuko’s previous class. Even if it had just suddenly end there with Riona killing herself, I wouldn’t complain. Even if that final episode felt a bit cheesy and rushed (especially the final killings but the chainsaw that didn’t make sense because do you know how much strength you need to exert just to hold up one?). I wouldn’t mind. Because all the annoying people are dead. But they had to put a teaser of another potential game in the works. Holy sh*t. This better not get another sequel. I hope that’s just that. Or I fear that I might have been infected by this virus and compelled to watch it.

It is very unfortunate that despite the interesting premise, the overall flow and pacing of the story is largely very disappointing. I knew something was wrong and it started to get boring once Nobuaki started his flashback story of the previous game. Sure, we got one King’s game instead of just one. But the problem is in the pacing and how the story is being told. I believe the producers want to put more focus on the drama and the story rather than on the deaths. That is why you tend to notice how the dramatized drama is so dragged out that it becomes annoying that you wish for everyone to just die and end it. Also, sometimes you get a few or none who die and at other times they just kill off a bunch of them just to save time. It makes it feel like as though those characters are not important enough so let’s make them die in a big group death. Yeah, suddenly one big chunk of students just died like that. And we don’t even know, remember or care about their names. The counter at the end of how many has died and how many is left is mostly useless. Because it’s not like we care about everyone suddenly dying at one go, right? It’s like a dramatic effect tool so that some of us may go, “Oh no. There is only xx number of them left. How many are going to survive?!”. Well, if you had known what happened in the last episode. Sorry to disappoint you hopefuls…

One of the biggest gripe and confusing thing about this series is how the King’s game works. Not so much of who or where the orders come from or what they must do but rather how one gets punished. You see, in the initial stages of the game, some orders or so ambiguous that it feels as though they want to do some mass killings to kill off a big group to save time. So if you’re the kind who understands things slowly, just too bad for you. Out you go. The most mind boggling one is Kenta and Mizuki’s death. I thought all those punished would die a horrific death. But how come they get to die so peacefully?! I don’t understand. I think they are the only ones who get to die with their whole body intact, notwithstanding some sort of injury to their bodies whatsoever.

The other big problem is the King’s game itself. You mean a virus is causing all of this to happen? If you say biological virus, then I would be more inclined to believe even though the plausibility is still low. But a digital virus? Come on. This is just crap. Is this some sort of hint to say that if you are addicted to your handphone 24/7, you can get infected by such viruses? Possibly. With everyone being such a zombie these days. It is as though they are trying to warn and scare us not to be addicted to our Smartphones. I think this series tried to emulate that hypnosis thingy from Danganronpa 3 when the people kill themselves. But then again, if an AI can do this to humans, is this another warning of how technology will grow smarter than us and make killer robots to wipe us out? Oh, who needs Terminator or Skynet when you can just annihilate mankind this way while enjoying and watching us like hapless rats fighting for survival. We are at the whim and mercy of artificial intelligence, so to speak. In the end, the King is just one big sadist because its true goal is not to have anyone survive in the end. The one who survives the longest is the biggest loser since he/she have to witness all the killings and deaths. If this game was created by an alien, this would be the most effective way to wipe out humans since naturally humans are just selfish creatures. It’s just going to take some time… But it’ll be fun watching them at that.

The other thing that doesn’t make sense is how the students are playing this game like as though they are the only humans in the country or world to play this game. I mean, what happened to the adults? Their parents where?! Do they not care about their kids and just let them do as they wish? Especially that final arc where some had to run all the way to Nuegakubi. Oh, where is my son or daughter? Not around? Okay. No problem. WTF. Sure those survivors would have told their parents and the parents of the dead would have done something. If this King’s game origination is a digital virus, where are the world’s famous hackers to stop this game?! I believe getting help from outside parties is not stated as one of the general rules (unless it is pertaining to playing the game) so why don’t they seek help from others? Oh Nobuaki, you keep thinking you can save everybody but you never thought of asking help from others to help save them. You trying to be the tragic hero?

At first I didn’t want to watch this series because I saw the horror tag in it. You know me. I’m still a chicken and horror averse person so I would prefer to stay away from horror anime titles (unless it is Jigoku Shoujo because of a certain seiyuu…) but changed my mind after thinking that this could be more of a survival type. Well, certainly nobody is technically wrong. However the horror stuffs are merely reduced to when the limbs suddenly get cut off or contorted till they rip apart and the head suddenly gets decapitated. That’s about all. Although it is scary but not that scary enough because of the poor animation quality. Yup. Sometimes I though they looked a bit funny… Plus, most of those decapitated parts are censored out by those ‘black hole’ censors so there isn’t much to see.

The next big problem comes from the characters themselves. I thought I wanted to call this series the Crying Shame Game. Because that is what many of the characters will do when somebody dies. The biggest offender is Nobuaki. He is the biggest cry-baby ever. Thanks to the series trying to ramp up the drama and the feels, you get many of such weird scenes of Nobuaki shedding his tears and screaming in agony he has failed to save another life. Again. Damn this guy is going to turn into some traumatic psychopath if he lives through this. I know there is only so much a person can take when he sees his friends die before his eyes again and again so frequently but it feels like routine. Somebody going to die. Nobuaki desperately tries to save them. Tears. Crying. Oops. Too late. Dying. Tears. Crying. Last words? Okay. Now die. Scream. Tears. Crying. There’s some anger in between too. There. The cycle of the melancholy of Nobuaki Kanazawa. So much so it gets so annoying that I started looking at this as a running joke.

The more interesting character is Natsuko. She is also the ultimate b*tch character whom you will love to hate. She is the physical antagonist of this series because we don’t really know nor can we see the mastermind behind the King’s game. Natsuko’s self-preservation and selfishness is a very good food for thought of what humans like her would do just to stay alive. I am not sure if I myself would resort to that kind of sneaky ways just to stay alive at the expense of others. Will I turn to my dark side and instincts for survival or will I stay a pussy and pay the price with my life? Not sure. Only in such a true test that my true self will reveal. I hope it will never come. Hence Natsuko is able to survive this long because of how she manipulates and steps over everyone else who is in this case either too dumb, weak or gullible. Too bad karma took a vacation and just desserts were sold out for Natsuko’s case until it is too late. The final episode did hint that she was just playing the villain in order to keep her sanity. Yeah, she played it for too damn long and at this point nobody would have thought of her as that. So it all boils down to one cheesy romance affair because she loves him, Riona loves him and now they can all be joined together in the afterlife. Wow. What a ‘happy ending’! What a cheesy romance, including the one with Kenta and Mizuki. Sheesh. Till death do them part, eh?

I don’t even understand why the connection was made between Chiemi and Natsuko. I mean, it could have been done without. It serves no more than a distraction and it becomes a red herring towards the end of the series. So what fi Chiemi and Natsuko are sisters and they come from the same village? You might think Natsuko is playing this game then to get her revenge on Nobuaki but then again it doesn’t make sense because she too didn’t know about her sister as they were separated. So this connection is one of those WTF things that would leave you scratching your head wondering why they put it in here in the first place.

As for the other characters, like I have said, they don’t really matter. Those who died so early in the game don’t even matter anymore and they’re just there for the body count. I guess for these early deaths, it is a blessing because they don’t have to put up with all the emotional torture. And for those side characters who somewhat do, it is usually a death flag and indication that their time is probably up so they do something final before they go. And more crying from Nobuaki. Sheesh… When they die, you don’t care for them anymore. Amazingly in the final stretch of the game, it was Natsuko trying to kill off everybody. Heck, she should have done that right after her true colours were revealed. Just go to the shop and buy a machine gun and gun them all down! Oh, can you get guns in Japan freely especially for an underage? Or just get a sword and cut everyone down! Natsuko is one who can do it. Perhaps it will be too risky if there are too many as in the beginning as everyone will team up and bring her down. Better to do it when the size is smaller and they are all separated. Plus at the end stage of the game, everyone is losing their sanity because of how close it gets to the theme of there can only be one. So you bet everyone is getting selfish and jittery.

I don’t want to go into too deep in the voice acting department because of all the dramatization of the characters screaming, crying and being angry. I suppose that is expected when you play a game of life and death. The list is a long one seeing in a class you have like over 30 people and since we also have Nobuaki’s previous class, that’s double the amount. But I’ll just note Mamoru Miyano as Nobuaki. It has been a while since I heard this guy (though in smaller cameo roles, this my first as him in a leading role) but his boyish voice makes it suitable and at the same time for Nobuaki whenever he starts wailing. Is it me or now I’m starting to think that his natural voice sounds like as though he is going to cry. The other one to note is Yui Horie as Natsuko. After a year’s hiatus and returning with a few small cameo roles in the previous season, looks like she is back helming a main character. She still hasn’t lost her touch and is versatile going from a sweet girl to a devilish crazy woman.

I have a dilemma wondering if the hard rock opening and ending themes sound suitable for this survival horror series. Feed The Fire by Coldrain and Lost Paradise by Pile may give you that adrenaline rush with their hard rock style of rocking but it would have been fitting had the series been of the action type. People being killed off via decapitation or amputation and the over-dramatization of the series don’t make it sound like it should have some hard rock music. I don’t know. Maybe it’s like the trauma of seeing these people die in such a manner that you might resort to take drugs and start hallucinating to fight off the horrific trauma. And what better way to complement all that with such hard rock music. Just kidding. But what if everyone as we have seen playing this game and getting killed is because they are all high on drugs?! No way!!!

Overall, this is a very disappointing series that fails in so many aspects that it is bad enough that it is good. And funny. At least I felt that way. The characters and the pacing of the story messed things up. After a while you won’t even want to care for the characters and even root for the King to just kill everyone off. Thank you very much even if the King didn’t actually directly kill everyone. Because everyone is just so annoying and weepy that a whole load of Kleenex won’t be enough to wipe away those tears. And you thought a tear jerking movie was bad enough with the tissues. Or porn for guys ;p. If you want to watch survival series, it is best to go for Danganronpa and even the old school Gantz. Compared to this mediocrity, even Mirai Nikki, Umineko No Naku Koro Ni and Btooom look better. If there was a King’s game among all such survivor series, this one would be end up in runners up or third place. Because there is nothing more frustrating than slogging all the way only to go out and lose one step before ultimate victory. Better to go out early if you’re not going to win, right? Ironically, a fate worse than death itself.

Wanted for magical girl raising project. Girls who are interested of becoming magical girls and do all the goody-goody stuffs of helping other people are very much encouraged to apply. Successful applicants will be directly contacted by our administrator. Thank you. Woah. If only making a magical girl was that easy to begin with. When was the last time you see a dark magical girl anime? I know there are a handful throughout the years and I still remember how grim Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica was. Well folks, looks like here is going to be another dark and bloody magical girl anime. It may all look nice and sweet about a programme to develop and nurture magical girls. But behind all that glitter and sparkle of Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku lies something much darker. Something more sinister. Something that makes everybody wished they have read the finer prints and between the lines of the contract. How do you feel when I summarize this series in one sentence: Magical girls killing each other in battle royale style! OMG! Indeed. Now do you have the guts to watch how the best magical girl is chosen?

Episode 1
Koyuki Himekawa seems interested as she is told by the game’s mascot, Fav about this Magical Girl Raising Project. Wow. Sounds cool. Use magic and fight the darkness. Oh… I remember Kyuubey… Don’t do it! It’s a trap! Next day, Koyuki is discussing with her friends about rumours that magical girls have been responsible in taking out triads and the mafia. They also talk about the game company of Magical Girl Raising Project and their ridiculous ads and it is obvious Koyuki seems hooked on it. Because it’s free to play. Flashback reveals Koyuki has always loved magical girls. Back home, she gets a message from Fav that he has been observing her and is deemed fit to become a magical girl. Koyuki, no!!! IT’S A TRAP!!!!! Too late… Instantly she transforms into a magical girl nicknamed Snow White. This is real. This makes her very happy as she goes around town helping those in need. Fav also tells her she is the 15th magical girl and her special ability is to hear the thoughts of others in trouble. Fav also believes it is time for her to meet other magical girls via this online forum. Currently online now are Nemurin, Sister Nana, Vess Winterprison, La Pucelle and Cranberry. La Pucelle offers to train up Snow White since her area is next to her. La Pucelle then explains how each magical girl is given their own territory and thus rarely bump into each other. She warns the rogue magical girl, Calamity Mary in the Jounan district and to stay away from her. The combo pair of Top Speed and Ripple are passing by so La Pucelle also explains how some magical form teams. This has La Pucelle offer to team up with her. Snow White is surprised she knows her real name. La Pucelle’s real name is Souta Kishibe, Koyuki’s elementary classmate. Wait a minute. Isn’t she a boy???!!! No wonder Koyuki can’t recognize him. Or her. So you’re completely female if you’re a magical girl. La Pucelle vows to protect Snow White who feels very safe to be by her. When Koyuki comes home, there is an important message from Fav that he plans to cut this region’s magical girls to eight.

Episode 2
Of course everyone else isn’t too happy about this announcement. Making it worse is that Fav has already planned to take in a 16th magical girl since she already made a contract. It seems Fav has miscalculated. As magical girls draw power from the region, having too many of them will drain the power very quickly. But the question now is how they are going to half that number. Wait. What? Collect the most Magical Candies? You mean they’re not going to kill each other? Shucks… We have a flashback of how Top Speed and Ripple met. When the latter was a new magical girl, Top Speed offered to train her. However Calamity Mary appeared and announced that it was supposed to be her turn. Although Top Speed apologized and wasn’t looking for trouble, it didn’t take long before Ripple and Calamity Mary start fighting. The latter backs down when Top Speed pleaded. She also lets Top Speed have Ripple whose ability is her shurikens never miss. Snow White and La Pucelle save an elderly couple from a house on fire. This earn them lots of Magical Candies as the people they rescued are safe otherwise they won’t receive this many. Koyuki can’t sleep and logs online. She sees Nemurin and talks to this nice girl. She learns her ability is to enter people’s dream. Then we see Nemurin fighting monsters and saving the world in dreams. Although this earns her a lot of Magical Candies, what happens in dreams stays in dreams. Fav advises her to get real ones in reality. Ruler is having her groupies announce how many Magical Candies they have got. She chides Tama for not getting any because she won’t let anyone in this group drop out. Soon, Fav announces the top Magical Candies collector is Snow White. At the bottom is Nemurin. This means she will be eliminated. Snow White is sad and after she is done talking to Nemurin, her account is immediately terminated. Because Fav tells Nemu Sanjou (Nemurin) that she has until midnight before she cannot transform into a magical girl, she takes this last chance to enter people’s dreams. When time is up, she is suddenly cut off. Later when her mother comes in to check on her, she is in utter shock that her daughter is dead! OMG!

Episode 3
Top Speed gets a call from Swim Swim for a favour. It seems she forgot about a meeting with Ruler for a leaf viewing event and will be late. She sends her there in time and as expected, Ruler is not pleased with this. After Top Speed leaves, Ruler has her groupies to bury illegally dumped garbage to score Magical Candies. Snow White and La Pucelle are called by Sister Nana and Winterprison. When they were trying to find past logs of Nemurin to remember her by, they stumble upon this conversation between Fav and Cranberry. He told her that when a magical gets terminated, she will also die in the physical world. Meanwhile those idiotic angel twins are jealous Snow White is at the top of the popularity rankings too. They have Tama give them ideas on what to do. A PV? They like the idea and their popularity shoots up to second place although they still hate how much Snow White is in first. When Ruler summons them for a special meeting, it seems that all the magical girls are now being told and confirmed by Fav about real death once you drop out as a magical girl. Panic is starting to sink in. Didn’t read the rules, eh? Oh man, this is like Kyuubey… So what if they want to quit being a magical girl then? They will also die! Sh*t hits the fan when they realize the online article of a girl dying from a heart attack in her room that closely resembles Nemurin. It is her! Snow White is depressed about it so La Pucelle swears her loyalty that she will still protect her no matter what may become of her. When there is a version update notice that allows them to transfer Magical Candies, Ruler knows what the deeper meaning is. No, it is not transferring excess ones to those with smaller amounts or work as a team to earn Magical Candies. Because this can also be done with one’s device is off, they are telling them to steal Magical Candies. And who has the most Magical Candies right now? That’s right. Ruler and her groupies are going to target Snow White and make her die tonight.

Episode 4
Sanae Mokuou (Ruler) was chastised by her boss for coming up with an effective and flexible scheme. She was transferred to another lowly division. Her hate for idiots only grew and when she became a magical girl, she was thrilled at her ability to make anyone obey her commands. Hey. Can a person this ‘old’ be a magical girl?! Well, they had a boy being one… The angel twins distract La Pucelle and fight her. Despite pit traps from Tama, she can still hold her ground as she pounds them. Meanwhile Ruler has Snow White frozen as commanded while Swim needs to transfer her Magical Candies. It is tough on Ruler since she has to maintain this position without moving and Snow White has got lots of Magical Candies! When La Pucelle realizes this is a trap, she rushes back. This only angers Ruler that those idiots aren’t even good enough to stall others. Swim is done when La Pucelle lands an attack that separates Ruler and her groupies. Ruler calls for a tactical retreat. Snow White is depressed and La Pucelle is adamant to go get back her stolen Magical Candies. Snow White doesn’t want her to do that. But when they see her device, they are in shock. Ruler and co try to divide the stolen Magical Candies. As they have stolen 2,088 of them, they can’t divide it equally among the 5 of them. However Ruler dictates she will get the lion share as she planned all this. Swim will get half of that and the remaining miniscule balance to be divided among the idiots. When the announcement is made, Ruler is in last place! Flashback reveals Ruler was attacked by Calamity Mary. Humiliated, she gathered people with weak will to follow her to be meat shields. Now that Ruler is dead, the angel twins are mocking over her dead body. No more mean woman to boss them around. It seems this was a plan hatched by Swim. After she got Snow White’s Magical Candies, she transferred 25,000 to Tama. In actual fact, Snow White’s total is 50,000! Stealing half was enough. Then Swim has Tama order Fav to divide this amount evenly to everyone except Ruler, Snow White and La Pucelle. This would make Ruler in dead last place. The angel twins are also in on this. Apparently Swim got this idea when Nemurin entered her dream and gave her the idea of being a princess. A princess is like a ruler, right? But she can’t be a ruler if there is currently a ruler… See where this is going? Top Speed is upset Ruler got last place but Ripple obviously knows a coup d’etat has happened. They are called by Sister Nana to meet.

Episode 5
Sister Nana is trying to seek their help to end the fighting among the magical girls. But with her crying and all that, Ripple finds it shameful and disagrees. Top Speed prevents them from fighting and will think about it. Ruler’s subordinates might be free but now they are at a lost on what to do. Calamity Mary is seen talking to Magicaloid 44 who gets a call from Sister Nana. It seems Magicaloid was her magical girl tutor. Oddly, Sister Nana always wanted to borrow her ‘devices from the future’ (Magicaloid’s ability) in whatever help she wants to do. And she pays good money for it! Of course Magicaloid plays along as a way to make money but one day she didn’t know one of her device helped Winterprison become a magical girl as Sister Nana wanted. Now Sister Nana wants to stop this fighting so Magicaloid claims she can go negotiate on the admins on her behalf. Of course for a fee. Sister Nana and Winterprison are called by Cranberry. As usual, Sister Nana wants Cranberry to help stop this fighting but is instead told to stop what she is doing. Suddenly Cranberry and Winterprison start fighting. Winterprison is barely holding out with her magical walls but with a little of Sister Nana’s help (her ability is to boost the power of the one she wants), they turn the tables and escape. Fav is not pleased that Cranberry let them go as she was supposed to eliminate Sister Nana. However Cranberry has no interest in the game and only wants to fight strong opponents. Since Sister Nana is Winterprison’s source of strength, she’ll keep them alive for now. Sister Nana decides to take upon herself to teach the new magical girl, Hardgore Alice. As usual, the preaching about stop fighting each other, blah, blah, blah. But when she mentions about Snow White being targeted, Alice becomes interested in her and rushes off to where she is. After La Pucelle sends home Snow White, she is confronted by Cranberry who wants to fight her. She is not after her Magical Candies but wants a powerful opponent.

Episode 6
Makoto Andou (Magicaloid) does whatever she wants. She hangs out with a homeless man and eats with him before bumming in her friend’s place. While grinding some game, that is when she became a magical girl. La Pucelle and Cranberry begin their fight. OMG. First blood! It’s getting bloodier by the second as Cranberry beats up La Pucelle. Cranberry expresses she doesn’t fight strong opponents to gain strength but to kill them. This makes La Pucelle scared although she does make a little comeback and make Cranberry spill some blood of her own. But that is all futile because amidst the flashback of Souta’s reluctance in turning into a magical girl… He got hit by a truck? Before we know it, Souta is dead and everyone attends his funeral! Gloomy days are here for Koyuki. It seems this accident is just a cover up. As conspired by Cranberry and Fav to make it look like an accident when he was actually killed in that fight. Fav then makes an announcement. The good news is that there is an introduction of 5 items. First come first serve. La Pucelle’s death is also ‘good news’ because this means nobody else has to die this week. Cranberry wonders if this item thingy is a good idea because it might make it hard for Fav to reach his goal as this could mean the weaker ones could be left standing in the end. If the strong ones die in the process, it means they were weak in the first place and part of the process to be slain by the true hero. Fav tries to persuade depressed Snow White to buy the items. Based on what he says, she could guess La Pucelle’s death was no accident. The number on the items doesn’t indicate monetary cost. They cost you years of your life! She is hesitant to take at first but when she finally does, all of them are sold out! A little too late. Her luck runs out because Alice has found her. A chunk of them are bought by Swim’s group. The angel twins bought some medicine costing 3 years. Tama bought a weapon that costs 5 years and Swim bought the most expensive invisibility cloak for 25 years! Then she switches with Tama and decides to call the weapon Ruler. Wicked. The other magical pouch that can hold anything is bought by Calamity Mary who spent 10 years. Magicaloid didn’t buy any as she wants to hold on to her life. Knowing that the magical girls will be killing themselves, it’s a reason why she teamed up with Calamity Mary. However Calamity Mary doesn’t trust her and thinks she will backstab her one day. So to win her trust, go kill somebody. Before Alice can do anything, Magicaloid decapitates her! She decides to kill Snow White to please Calamity Mary. Two kills is better than one. However Magicaloid gets stabbed by Alice’s decapitated body!!! Bloody. Horror. No wonder Snow White is freaking out.

Episode 7
Koyuki wakes up in her room all fine. Was it a nightmare? Apparently she has that last item, rabbit’s foot that gives her luck whenever she is in a pinch. But she didn’t buy it. It was Alice who bought it. Sister Nana calls her to meet up. When Calamity Mary cannot reach Magicaloid, she summons Fav to contact her. But when she learns she is ‘not around anymore’, Calamity Mary wants to know who killed her and takes this as a direct challenge at her. At first Fav won’t give out information so easy, claiming fairness, blah, blah, blah. But she knows what he wants and makes a deal for things to go his way if he tells what she wants. Calamity Mary snipes out Alice. That easy? But then Alice rises back from the dead! Time to freak out. No matter how many bullets she pumps into her, Alice keeps regenerating! OMG! An immortal! She experiments with various ways to put her down and when fire seems to be the trick, she puts her remains in a cement block inside a barrel and dumps it into the ocean. Wow. Overkill. Want to bet zombie girl will get out of there? When Fav announces only Magicaloid has been killed by a slasher and thus nobody drops out this week, Calamity Mary laughs like crazy. Zombie girl is still alive. Flashback reveals Kano Sazanami (Ripple) always was picked on by other kids. They teased her for having a mom as a slut and changing so many dads. What does she do? She punches them all to hell! Even when she goes boyfriend hopping, she punches those damn b*tches for trying to warn her! And mom has got a new boyfriend home. Not surprising. As expected, he is a lazy bum and pervert. When he tried to make a move on her, that is when she has had it. She moved out to live on her own. Sister Nana meets Snow White to calm her depress heart. But look. She also has called Alice here! Alice agrees to work with her, delighting Sister Nana who is now off to meet other magical girls to form alliances. Wait. That’s it? You leaving Snow White alone with zombie girl? Man, this is awkward. Snow White tries to leave but no matter how far she goes, Alice is always there! Spooky! She tries to return the rabbit’s foot but Alice says it is hers now and she felt like giving it to her. Top Speed and Ripple are talking about things when the latter gets a call from Calamity Mary to meet. It’s urgent. Ripple isn’t too happy.

Episode 8
Flashback shows Sister Nana tried to warn Calamity Mary about using her magic to commit crimes. She doesn’t give a damn and starts shooting her. Thanks to Winterprison’s walls, they make their escape. Now Sister Nana is happy to go see Swim’s group not knowing they have laid a trap. Before talk can start, Tama in her cloak abducts Sister Nana. When they emerge, there are 2 Sister Nanas! Which is real? When Sister Nana goes up to Winterprison for help, this is the fake one because she stabs her. The disguise is courtesy of the angel twins’ ability. Winterprison realizes this is a trap and flings a very stunned Sister Nana outside to safety. Winterprison then targets the angel twins and smashes the head of Yunael (the younger of the twins)! In this chaos, Swim uses her weapon to cut off Winterprison’s arm and let her bleed to death. Winterprison sees visions of her time spent with Nana Habutae (Sister Nana). Minael (the elder of the twins) is devastated. Tama is reeling from the bloody shock. 2 dead bodies. Swim wonders how Ruler would have handled this. Obviously Sister Nana is also in despair thinking about those times spent with Shizuku Ashuu (Winterprison). Yamamoto Naoko (Calamity Mary) is an abusive alcoholic housewife. After the family left her for good, that is when Fav brought her into this magical girl project with his sweet words she can be strong, beautiful, etc. As Ripple and Top Speed wait for Calamity Mary, suddenly they are sniped at. They know she is out to kill them in the first place and makes a run for it. Calamity Mary knows she cannot best Top Speed’s, uhm, top speed so what does she do to bring her back? She randomly shoots and kills innocent bystanders!!! OMFG!!! She’s staying true to her name by causing a great calamity! Snow White sees this and rushes to the scene. Alice follows her. Flashback shows Alice revealing her ability to regenerate from any injury and she wanted to meet her again. Swim has a better idea. Wait for all the magical girls to head to the calamity area to rescue and then they kill them all off! Minael agrees with that. Everybody should just die… Cranberry isn’t interested of going but knowing that Winterprison is dead, she wants to know who killed her.

Episode 9
Sister Nana is too depressed to give a f*ck. I don’t think all that drinking and pills are going to help… Ripple jumps back down to face off with Calamity Mary. But Ripple steps on her landmine and bombs are thrown at her. Top Speed luckily returns to swiftly save her from death. Ripple wants to go back and fight her. She knows she is being harassed and Calamity will not stop hunting her till she is dead. There’s talk about not being an ideal magical girl so Top Speed acknowledges those feelings and agrees to help out. But getting near Calamity Mary isn’t easy. They are even shot out from the sky! Then they go for broke with their next trick, which is to drop shards of glass all over her. But cleverly hidden among those shards are Ripple’s shurikens. One strikes right in Calamity Mary’s forehead. Game over. She’s dead. Ripple thought Top Speed is fooling around hugging her. But then she realizes she is bleeding! Oh no. Was she injured during the fight? Actually, Swim stabbed her! Ripple becomes mad as she tries to kill Swim. However Swim is able to turn her body into water so any objects that harm her pass right through. Swim cannot match her agility and escapes. Ripple is further devastated when she returns to the body of Tsubame Murota. She is 3 months pregnant! You going crazy now?! Snow White and Alice are helping the people when Minael drops in. She transforms into an axe and throws herself at Snow White. But Alice takes it right in her head! Don’t worry. She still lives. Now Alice is going to kill Minael like swatting a fly? Snow White could hear the voice of Tama in a dilemma to attack her. Despite Tama is wearing the cloak, Snow White can pinpoint her due to her ability. This makes Minael mad as she grabs the cloak from her and disappears. Tama escapes by digging a hole. Snow White and Alice continue helping others. Alice picks up her dropped bunny doll but it seems it is Minael in disguise… Her original doll was hidden by the cloak. Meanwhile, Nana hangs herself. Too sad to give a f*ck anymore. Fav announces more dropouts than usual. Yeah, 5 of them. So what now? There were supposed to be whittled to 8 and now there are only 7. Yeah, f*ck that. Let’s whittle it down to 4. Are you freaking kidding me???!!! Swim is analysing the skills of other magical girls. It won’t be easy for their group to take on the rest. But this leaves Cranberry who rarely shows herself so she doesn’t know her strength. She thinks of having Tama test the medicine when they face her. Minael comes back happy, certain there is one person they can definitely kill.

Episode 10
An emotionless Ako Hatoda (Alice) visits her father in prison who tells her not to come anymore. Worse, the school is giving her that look because news spread that her dad murdered her mom. Snow White and Alice find solace with each other. But when Snow White learns about the whittling to 4, she loses it. She doesn’t want to this sh*t anymore. Alice tries to calm her but she takes out her frustrations on her and leaves. Alice is devastated when she is told not to follow her anymore. Alone again, naturally? When Ako heads to school, she is shocked Swim attacks her. Apparently once your identity is known, you lose your qualities as a magical girl. Swim chases down injured Ako who is looking pretty scared now she can’t transform. She remembers joining this magical girl project with a dark design and wanted to meet Snow White because it would be a good colour contrast between them. Apparently Swim can also teleport out from puddles and that is where she makes the kill. Another strike to make sure. Snow White could hear Ako’s voice calling out to her as she races there. Ako’s last words are as long she is still alive, there is still a magical girl in the city. Ako is also particular of Snow White because Koyuki helped find her lost keys before. Then it’s goodbye forever. Swim didn’t know it was so easy to kill Alice. Minael rues they should have done this from the start as she remembers her times with her twin. Mina and Yuna Amasato (Minael and Yunael) are a bit of a rascal as they grow up, doing almost everything together. Heck, the funny part was a guy confessed to them and doesn’t care which. Just date him! Hell no! Minael remembers masquerading as the doll and being brought to Ako’s home. That’s how she know how she looks like. If they had done this earlier, Yunael would still be alive. Next on the target list is… Cranberry receives a call from Swim to meet. Funny, Cranberry is thinking how strong this girl is seeing she has killed 4 magical girls! Then there’s a talk with Fav about making a false report and hiding the truth from some committee in the magical world about this project. Swim’s group arrives at Cranberry’s cabin in the woods. Swim enters the cabin and takes a medicine. But Cranberry is already outside and she knows Minael and Tama are trying to trap her. While Tama escapes from an attack, Cranberry crushes Minael’s heart as she is disguising as a rock! Tama panics when she sees Minael’s corpse but Swim isn’t as she plans to pincer Cranberry. Cranberry assesses Swim’s calm judgments and the reason why she is the leader in slain magical girls. But she can’t beat her. Can she?

Episode 11
Lots of dead magical girls. It seems a demon summoned for some selection exam has gone berserk. Even the master is dead. Only Cranberry is left standing and somehow she killed it. That was when Fav decided to team up with her to do something more exciting instead of these boring exams. Swim directly attacks Cranberry. Although Cranberry’s attacks go through Swim’s body, something about she can see and hear her, it means light and sound are unable to pass through. Cranberry lets loose a light explosion that blows her away. As she checks her body, she is shocked to see Swim’s real self is of a child. In that distraction, Tama scratched her. It is a fatal scratch as her ability is to make holes in anything she touch. Cranberry’s top explodes! OMG! After Tama picks up Ayana Sakanagi (Swim), she transforms back and slits Tama’s throat! WTF???!!! Flashback of Tama Inubouzaki’s life as a loser. She never did well in exams and sports. Her younger siblings did better and are ashamed to be related to her. Her only solace was her grandma but she died suddenly. That is when Tama became a magical girl and under Ruler, she was even thought how to read and write words! She can only regret what she did wrong. The dead don’t even contemplate. Fav now considers Swim as his new master and she agrees to play along with his game. It seems Swim killed Tama not because she is a ruthless master wannabe. Ruler told her never to let anyone know her true identity. Ayana goes home to do her homework like all those violence never happened. She ponders if Ruler would have become master without letting everyone die. Ripple remembers how Top Speed was enraged when Nemurin was killed. Likewise, Snow White thinks back about La Pucelle, Sister Nana and Alice. Ripple calls Snow White to meet. If she has any information on Swim, let her know now. It’s about revenge. Snow White tries to tell her this only makes her a murderer but Ripple doesn’t care about being a magical girl she once wanted to be. That’s why she admires her. Fav then interjects to hint Swim’s weaknesses are light and sound. Go figure the rest. Seems this killing game is going to whittle down to 2. Oh heck, why not just make it one? Snow White can’t believe what Fav has done although he says he is just giving a little supportive push. Ripple makes her final peace with Top Speed. The latter’s spirit thanking her for bringing her body back at her home? Time for Ripple to have a showdown with Swim.

Episode 12
As Koyuki is crying in depression back in her home, she doesn’t want to become into a magical girl anymore. Fav tells her that is not how it works as he reveals he is from some scouting department in the magical world to recruit and train magical girls (man, this reminds me of that Kyuubey’s explanation…). He was in cohorts with Cranberry who was the master but she got killed. Fav would prefer Snow White to be his master because Swim is a talented killer but is not a good master. Ripple too has personality issues so Fav doesn’t want her. That is why Fav motivated Ripple to fight Swim and have them kill each other. All that is left is Snow White. As master, she gets to decide how the next magical girl get selected. As Cranberry was the previous master, she decided to use this social media game which is popular in the human world which made recruitment easier cover up their true goal under the guise of gathering Magical Candies. Normally failed candidates would just have their memories erased but this time they decided to kill Nemurin so things would be spiced up. Thus, collecting Magical Candies is just red herring to have them kill each other. Fav can’t understand why she looks so surprised. She should have seen this coming?! Koyuki can’t take this anymore and destroys her device as she transforms to go stop the fight. Too late. It’s already in progress. Swim is having a great advantage because it is raining and there are puddles everywhere. Ripple is blinded an eye and an arm cut off before the flash of lightning made her realize this is Swim’s weakness as she is unable to turn her body into water. She uses a flash grenade to stun her and take her down. Just to be safe, she stabs her body many times! Ripple is happy to get revenge and the collapses.

By the time Snow White arrives, she is disheartened to see their corpses. Fav congratulates Snow White for being the sole winner without soiling her hands. But Snow White can hear Fav’s worries that if this master terminal is destroyed, it would be troublesome. She tries to break it but Fav assures this master device is very sturdy. But when Fav is mocking other magical girls, Ripple suddenly gets up! Apparently thanks to Snow White’s rabbit foot. Ripple is mad Fav mocked Top Speed as Snow White could hear Fav’s thoughts that he is scared Swim’s weapon can destroy the terminal. Fav will say anything to get out of his predicament so Snow White tells Ripple not to listen. Ripple lunges the weapon and destroys the terminal. Bye Fav. In the aftermath, the site for this magical girl project is gone. Error 404. There are also a lot of news about terrorist organizations and bad guys being taken out mysteriously. It has also been 6 months since Koyuki had run away from home and her friends have never heard from her since. In actual fact, Snow White and Ripple have been going around doing these deeds. They have received messages from the magical world to stop acting on their own but they ignored and deleted them. Snow White and Ripple have a friendly battle with each other as Snow White narrates her love for magical girls. Even if people say they are for young children, she will never stop dreaming.

Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara!
Ah well. What a bittersweet ending. At least the surviving duo go around in secret to do some good for the world. Even if their work goes uncredited, I believe this is what being a true unsung hero and a magical girl they believe in. After all, this might be their way of atoning for the unholy game they participated in despite it was no fault of theirs. Maybe in a way they too are to blame. While Ripple clearly had her hands tainted, Snow White didn’t do anything and that itself might be as good if she joined in the killing spree. Well, at least our heroines didn’t sacrifice themselves and be one with the world! So as you can see, this is what happens when Game of Thrones is a magical girl version. Haha! Too bad the small cast of characters would hardly make any deaths epic. But this isn’t the first anime to have its cast of characters kill each other. Old series like Basilisk and Gantz have already been doing this a long time ago.

Call me a sadist but somehow I was getting more and more engrossed in interested in watching the magical girls take out each other. Yes, this is the main reason why I gradually found this series to be interesting. You rarely have magical girls fight each other in battle royale style and in fact this could be the only show to do so as far as I know. Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica may have its dark and grim moments but they don’t turn on each other although they too have one alternate timeline of killing each other.

Upping the dark and grimness of the series is of course the blood splattering and some body parts decapitated. Because you don’t normally see those in ‘normal’ magical girl shows that are laced with toxic magical goodness. So if you want to compare this series with other shows that are liberal and generous with the use of blood such as Shingeki No Kyojin and Drifters, this one makes it more brutal in comparison, don’t you think? So while watching the magical girls use their single unique ability in battle that may not amount to anything much, the sight of blood suddenly splattering and dripping might suddenly leave your jaw agape wide open. Yeah, at least it proves that even magical girls bleed. Get the note, Superman?

Despite many of the episode titles sounding like happy and bright game notices such as “Welcome to a world of dreams and magic!”, “Collect magical candies!”, “Add more friends!”, “New character!”, Up your friendship!”, “Get the super rare items!” and “Notice of new rules”, it feels like they are hardly the theme of the episode. Sure, that may only last for a few moments as the rest of the episode would be as grim and dark. Heck, the final 2 episodes’ titles is somewhat of a reminder of how dark this is going turn out to be, “Server down for maintenance” and “File not found”. Hell, they even added some horror-like suspense and interference to mess with our minds and scare our fragile hearts when these couple of titles popped up.

Another reason why this series is interesting is because of how it threw me off in which magical girl would go first. Yes, I was actually trying to predict who would die first and the last ones to stand. Of course with Snow White being the main protagonist, that is a given she will remain till the end. In short, my predictions were mostly wrong! I expected Ruler would be one of those last bosses because of her b*tch attitude but her early death signals the start of my failed predictions to come. I didn’t expect strong ones like La Pucelle and Winterprison to go out early or in the middle of the series. I didn’t expect Tama or Minael to last that long because they are somewhat the weakest and I saw them as numbers to be killed off. Who’d knew that they actually outlasted the stronger ones. This included Calamity Mary, whom I initially thought would be the last boss just like Ruler and because she is so badass but also went out in the middle. With more known about Cranberry and her unusual strength and power, I thought she would be the last boss then but I was proven wrong again when they picked her off!

Alice as the newcomer I thought she would be in the last 4 because her delayed appearance could mean she is hiding some sort of twist, right? Wrong! And here I was thinking how Sister Nana would be killed, she did the unthinkable and beat me to it by killing herself! I didn’t see that coming for sure! So you see how because all my predictions were off (because I’m so confident after watching a handful of shows about everybody killing everybody over the years) that is why I became engrossed instead of feeling frustrated. Oh heck, I should have guessed Snow White and Ripple would be the last ones standing because their bio-data in the mid-intermission are the first ones to appear. Big hint and sign, dude.

Which brings me to the characters of the series. I have mixed feelings about it. Because of a series that kills off its characters, is it necessary to know about their backgrounds? In some ways, yes. It is a good way to tell us about their back story and how they end up in this game, albeit they do not really impact the flow of the story in any way. It is just to give us some sort of understanding that these are girls, each with their own set of problems to deal with rather than something that would really affect the storyline in general. It gives them character and personality at best. But because there are 16 of them, the limited episodes and screen time means their stories are short and what you see is what you’ll know. That’s all. Therefore me wanting more than 16 characters and bloating it up to say, 50 so I can watch the gore fest might just dilute and make this part cheap. Thank goodness only 16, right? Also, the names of their character and magical girl nicknames reflect their behaviour so if you know your Japanese decent enough, you can guess their attribute and power based on their names.

So when you read the bio-data in the mid-intermission, it practically says everything and all you need to know about them. Every episode features 2 magical girls. It explains their unique ability as well as their general character in normal form. They are also shown their magical girl and normal form too although I wonder why a few do not have their normal form even though we don’t even get to see their real faces very much, at least we get to see in short instances. Like when they’re dead. Yeah, not pretty. My scepticism for Cranberry only increased because as the last bio-data, she is the only one without a real self and Fav is featured in this place. If you count your magical girls right, what happens when they run out of bio-data to show? They display ‘important’ quotes as said from the magical girls! Some are thought provoking like “If it’s talent they want, then they need only eliminate the weak and select the strong” while some are just WTF. “What did I do wrong?” and “Huh? I don’t know”. Huh? Why does Tama’s words like these get featured?!

Snow White being featured as the main protagonist doesn’t feel like one. Thanks to the other magical girls and the ‘fairness’ of giving them their due screen time. Because it is funny come to think of it that Snow White who didn’t even kill a single magical girl, she lasted till the end. It is as though she stayed dormant waiting for other rivals to take each other out before making her appearance. Heck, there are no more others left so who else is going to be in focus? Because for most the middle parts of the series, Snow White is relegated to the background while other magical girls duke it out like Calamity Mary and Ripple settling their score. All mostly can be done without Snow White ever coming into the picture. After La Pucelle’s death, I feel that part of Alice’s role is to help shield Snow White from everything else and part of the reason why Snow White is able to stay safe and alive till the end.

Swim is the most terrifying and deadliest of all characters. Even deadly as she shows no emotions. Heck, she may even be the youngest girl among all the participants and she is already so ruthless. Not sure if she is really this wicked or she is just trying to find her place and live out as what Ruler has told her. Sometimes I find Swim and Alice to be overlapping characters because they are both emotionless and they are both lolis. Heck, even their powers seem to overlap in the sense that it makes them immortal. I also want to comment on the angel twins. Despite looking the cutest of the lot, they give off this impression they are cutely dumb and all that because you see them rejoicing like idiots when things go their way. That itself makes them scary too. Especially when the other is gone, the other turned into a crazy killer. For Tama, I just want to say that the moment I laid eyes on her and get to know her character, she kinda reminds me of that Cartoon Network character, Courage the cowardly dog…

So we’ve got almost every other magical girl having some sort of their own problems like Calamity Mary’s alcoholic ways and the need to dominate others weaker than her, Ripple hating her own mom and Ruler wanting to prove that she is a capable leader. In view of this, I think the happiest magical girls are Top Speed and Sister Nana. This is shown in both their magical girl form and normal form. Ironically Top Speed was an ex-gangster but she is living a pretty happy family life and even expecting! It was just a sad ending for her. Likewise, Sister Nana and Winterprison are perhaps to most lovey-dovey couple. At first I was wondering if Winterprison is actually male because of her androgynous looks. She also tends to wear male-like clothes and play the male role for Sister Nana. So it could be her just being a tomboy and their relationship is still much lesbian? Well, if Winterprison is a guy, it would then overlap with La Pucelle’s character in a few ways. The thing that annoys me about Sister Nana is how she tries to preach to everybody. I’m cool with her being honestly goody-goody but I can somehow relate in real life her kind of character praising and glorifying whatever the speaker is trying to preach/sell/advocate. It’s that kind of annoyance.

Speaking of Fav, this little blob reminds me so much of Kyuubey and even though they have this similar vibe, they feel totally different. Despite when they talk using nice and cute tones but you can sense that there is something hidden beneath all that. Even when they tell you the truth, they tell it straight to you without changing their emotions and talk in the same cute manner they have always been talking to you. Having them as your moderator and contractor, you are really screwed big time. But can you blame them? It’s not like the girls did ask for hidden clauses and conditions at first. Everyone is so happy thinking about their own perceptions of the good it will be being a magical girl till sh*t hits the fan then it’ll be too late. One big difference is that Kyuubey exists physically while Fav feels like his is only digital.

What bothers and confuses me is this magical world thingy and the project Fav is supposed to undertake and report. I’m not sure why they are even doing this as it is not clearly explained and I’m confused if they are really that dumb not to see the magical girls killing themselves. It’s like handing them a project and not even giving a damn about it, so when asked about it periodically, they accept whatever answer and continue not to give a damn. Fabulous. It just shows this magical world isn’t as great as they’re supposed to be or they are just powerless. I mean, why the need of a magical project in the first place, right? Another thing that boggled me is how magical girls lose their attributes if they know about their true identity. Fair enough, if they are in normal form, they won’t have any magical girl powers. But seeing how some of them know each other (like Sister Nana and Winterprison), wouldn’t their power be ineffective? I feel like I’m missing something here… Also I find it redundant that the special magical items cost the purchaser’s lives in years. Because not that it mattered anyhow as they’ll be dead anyway! Get what I mean?! Of course it is to reflect the grimness of the game and to see the desperation of some but like I said, it didn’t matter because all of the purchasers ended up dead in the end.

This series is done by Lerche who has brought to you Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, Hamatora, Danganronpa, Carnival Phantasm, Gakkou Gurashi, Unbreakable Machine Doll and Saijaku Muhai No Bahamut. Thus you can see why the art and drawing style lean towards the moe side like in some of those aforementioned series. Although nothing that extraordinary, sometimes it feels pretty odd to see cute girls killing each other. I can’t say about the character designs because I think magical girls have come a long way since the days of Sailormoon and Cardcaptor Sakura. They aren’t your typical magical girl outfit anymore. Therefore at first it was weird to see a bunch of cosplaying girls running all over town. I mean when you have a witch, ninja, nun, knights, robot, gothic loli and even a cowgirl in the fray, it doesn’t really look like magical girl fest on this level anymore. But I guess this gives a variety of eye candy because if everybody is going to look like palette swap variants of Sailormoon, it would be just bloody boring and pain to look at. Is it me or does La Pucelle look a bit like Saber in some angles?

There are quiet a handful of recognizable seiyuus lending their voices here as I later find out because the shocking thing was how I couldn’t recognize most of them when I should have! Excuse: I was too engrossed in the story and killings for me to strain my ear and listen. So it was really a surprise for me when I discover that Nao Touyama was behind Snow White, Ayane Sakura as La Pucelle, Kikuko Inoue as Calamity Mary and Youko Hikasa as Ruler. They sound so different than their usual. Those that I had barely recognized and took me a while are Yuu Kobayashi as Winterprison and Megumi Ogata as Cranberry. Of course, those outright recognizable are Saori Hayami as Sister Nana and Satomi Arai as Magicaloid.

For the rest I didn’t recognize, they are Manami Numakura as Ripple (Retoree in Show By Rock), Inori Minase as Swim (Chamille in Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou No Alderamin), Rina Hidaka as Alice (Anko in Tamako Love Story), Yumi Uchiyama as Top Speed (Momiji in Binbougami Ga), Risae Matsuda as Minael (Taki in Denpa Kyoushi), Satsumi Matsuda as Yunael (Nagaru in Denpa Kyoushi – hey, the angel twins are voiced by the same seiyuus who played delinquent twins in Denpa Kyoushi too?), Asuka Nishi as Tama (Shinobu in Kiniro Mosaic), Yumiri Hanamori as Nemurin (Hanako in Anne Happy), Kurumi Mamiya as Fav (titular character in Hamtaro – is this what evil hamsters sound like?).

I wonder if Sakebe by Manami Numakura as the opening is fitting for such a series. It is a lively rock outfit but personally even if it does fit action sequences, it doesn’t seem to bode well if you have a series about everybody killing everybody and deaths are for real. Personally the ending theme is more fitting despite it is also another rock piece. Dreamcatcher by Nano starts out all echo-y, making it feel close to Enya’s kind of music. Mixing a good amount of English and Japanese words into the song, it gives some sort of hope after all the grim killings we have seen.

Overall, if you are traumatized after watching cute magical girls kill each other, I recommend to you watching Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara for therapy. Yes, that magical girl show about a magical girl doing no magical girl stuffs. Well, if you really get traumatized after watching this, then you’re not ready to face some of the other magical girl series that are dark in their own way. Better off sticking to old school retro Sailormoon and Cardcaptor Sakura, eh? This show is not for the faint hearted and in my books this is an interesting and remarkable series despite what others have to say about it. It shows us the dark side of humans (magical girls in this case) when life and death are at stake. Lots of moral questions are raised but more importantly do you stick with your principles and do what is right. A great reminder never to jump in the bandwagon when things seem too good to be true. Hmm… Better have a second thought and not click on that invitation and application on social media looking for masters to supervise a harem of beautiful obedient and submissive maids in a large luxurious mansion. Can’t… Resist… Clicking…

Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor

March 18, 2017

You know what they say about gamblers being creature of habit. I’m sure there are lots more sayings about gamblers, their addiction, their greed and their baseless confidence they can win big each time but I don’t want to bore you with all those stuffs. This isn’t what this blog is about. Not so long ago, I did mention that I was hit by the survival genre bug after my stint with Mirai Nikki and Umineko No Naku Koro Ni. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is one of those suggested titles on my waiting list and now the time has come to own up and pay its dues. What makes this a bit different is that this series involves gambling and not so much of fantasy elements. I know that I dislike gambling (and it is a good thing since I know I never have much luck to begin with) but I was curious to see how a gambler survives from one hell to another with his so called luck. Hey, maybe I can learn a few tips from here and test my luck at the casino… NO WAY!!! STAY OUT OF GAMBLING, ME ESPECIALLY!

Limited Rock-Scissors-Paper
Kaiji Itou is a bum with no job. He drinks and gambles away. One day this creepy guy, Yuuji Endou comes into his place after he suspects him of vandalizing his luxury car. Kaiji panics and of course this led him to be taken away for a more serious discussion. It seems his friend, Takeshi Furuhata has gone missing and left behind a debt he has not even paid a single yen. As Kaiji is the guarantor, he must pay up and with compounding interests, it blows up to millions. However Endou gives him hope because there is a ship, Espoir that will give him a chance to free his entire debt and even walk away as a millionaire. Of course the game of high stakes will be gambling and he will be facing off with other debtors. Endou paints a picture of hope for him to pay off his debt all in one night instead of slogging for 20 years. Kaiji is hesitant at first but Endou receives a call that there are only a couple of places left. Kaiji then decides to take the plunge. Of course all this was just a ploy to get him to participate. Now he is on board along with the rest with similar fate. Hosted by Yukio Tonegawa, they are given their ‘war funds’ in which a million yen is the minimum. There is a catch that the interest is compounded 40% every 10 minutes. Of course everyone protests at this craziness but what choice do they have? What right do they have? While many opt for the minimum, there are some brave enough to take the maximum of 10 million. Kaiji also can’t be considerate about others and takes the maximum. They are explained the first game. Inside their envelopes contain cards of rock, scissors and paper. They have a limit of placing their hand depending on their cards’ availability. They are also given 3 stars each. Every hand they win, they take a star. At the end of the 4 hour time limit, they win if they can maintain 3 stars. But even if they have more stars but have not finished their cards, they are still considered as lost.

Kaiji meets this guy Jouji Funai who proposes to team up since they are the only ones who took the maximum funds. At first Kaiji is hesitant but Funai mentions he has been on board this ship several times and that you can buy stars with money. After Kaiji agrees to team up, they play each other and draw their hand 9 times. But on the 10th hand, Funai betrays him and wins his hand. He also wins the 11th hand. He leaves Kaiji with only a star left. Kaiji feels betrayed but it is useless to cry betrayal since he let his fate being decided by others. Besides, it’s not like Funai broke any rules. Kaiji then sees his friend Furuhata who is also shock to see him. He proposes to team up. Although they have money and cards, they lack stars and go to find someone who has stars and no cards. Mamoru Andou is their perfect guy as the trio pool their resources to get the necessary stars.

However Andou almost betrays them when he steals a card and plays it. And lost. Saying sorry won’t cut it but Kaiji won’t kick him out of the group even if he knows well Andou was going to betray them anyway because it won’t do them any good. So with only 4 cards left and all of them scissors, Kaiji deduces a dangerous strategy. He has them find a man with more than half cards left and many stars while Kaiji himself goes to buy more stars. However nobody is going to sell to him at this point. When his buddies find the match, Kaiji knows exactly how this man plays. Kaiji pretends to be desperate to get him to play since this guy likes to kill off those with only 1 star left. Kaiji is hinging dangerously on this balance theory. Normally you would discard your cards so you would have a balanced set at all times. Kaiji wins the first round knowing this guy would use paper (since he has more of it). In the second round, Kaiji loses. But this is all part of his plan to make him get confident and blinded by his own balance theory. In the third round, Kaiji wins and in the final round Kaiji also beats him since this guy cannot believe he has 4 scissors in a row.

Thinking of their next strategy, Kaiji realizes something about the balance of the remaining cards. He gets this idea to buy up the rock cards. When time runs out, it will give them a winning chance against the scissors cards. Using their funds to buy rock cards from gamblers with 3 stars, they wait and take turns to check to balance of cards left. However they realize that scissors cards are dropping at a faster rate. Kaiji then realizes somebody else is also buying up the paper cards and thus scissors cards are declining because they have been drawing. With panic setting in, Furuhata and Andou rush to play their hand to avoid their rock cards being useless. They lost. Back to square one. That is when they are approached by Kitami and his group. They are the ones who bought out the paper cards. He praises Kaiji for coming up with this strategy and sees them as worthy opponents. That’s why they have decided to play them as their last opponents. He offers to sell his stars but Kaiji refuses and instead wants to play him in a death match. They will play until one loses all his stars.

However Kitami refuses so Kaiji will settle for just one game. But Kaiji throws down all his money as his wager and bet 3 stars on this single game. Since Kitami has enough stars even if he loses, Kaiji will convince his pals to lend theirs. Kitami will not wait so Kaiji offers all his money if he cannot convince them in 5 minutes. With his friends being selfish, negative and pessimistic, Kaiji hits hard on the need to move forward. There is not much time left. Eventually they manage to agree but Kitami wants to chicken out. This is when Kaiji shoots back about him being a coward. After it has come to this, he wants to back out? So the match begins. Kitami has a bad feeling about this but at this point as per the rules, he cannot change his card or pull out. Kaiji explains from all his actions and words that he exactly knows what extra odd card he has and put out. I don’t really understand the technical aspects but whatever. It seems Kaiji still has a scissors card and wins against Kitami’s paper card. Luckily Kaiji bought this earlier on as insurance. The 30 rock cards were just for them to draw out later on.

Kitami’s group is now arguing among themselves. Kaiji proposes they buy 30 paper cards. His friends manage to get 20 paper cards. Kaiji now talks to Kitami and wants to be his saviour. He tells him his buddies have sold him out and sold their paper cards to them. But for Kitami’s case, he needs to give his money if he wants Kaiji to take his paper cards. Kitami does so and now Kaiji’s group has obtained the necessary cards. They have now 30 rocks, 5 scissors and 34 papers. Kaiji is then approached by Funai who wants to buy some cards. This guy has already more than enough stars and he wants to win more? He is willing to pay upfront his star for cards but Kaiji refuses when Funai tells him to betray his friends. When it’s time to move in, nobody wants to play with them. This is because of all the distrust and the scamming everyone at this point has seen. Their only choice is to wait till more cards are whittled. Then Funai voices out. At this rate everyone will lose because of the suspicions of knowing what card they have. He suggests to start anew and shuffle their cards among each other. This of course puts a damper in Kaiji’s buyout strategy. With more and more people joining Funai’s group, Kaiji’s group also has no choice but to join in.

Counting the cards and types, it seems it doesn’t tally. Somebody out there is holding 3 scissors cards. Anyway Funai reshuffles them and redistributes them. To buy time, he throws and scatters Kaiji’s 69 cards. After picking them up, Kaiji realizes he has all the paper cards. He sees Funai trying to make someone play with him. That guy is hesitating so when Kaiji offers to play, Funai reveals the buyout trick. Now everybody doesn’t want to play with Kaiji. Kaiji feels betrayed and wants to get physical. But when he realizes Funai was going to call his opponent his victim, he realizes that everything was a scam setup by Funai. He recalls the suspicious moves Funai made during the reshuffling. He counted the types of cards remaining instead of the whole is so he could mark them. Victims he targeted, he marked the card by marking a scar. Since he was the one who finally distributed the cards, the shuffling by everyone was a false sense of security. Even more so Funai distributed them randomly instead of in a pre-ordered manner. With that, nobody wants to play with Funai but this doesn’t make Kaiji and co’s situation better. Kaiji realizes a loophole and can win but it is dangerous. He goes to talk to the remaining guys to play him. Although Kaiji knows their cards, he will forfeit his choice in choosing which cards to play. This means he will lie face down 3 cards in which the opponent will pick for him to play. Kaiji wins against the first opponent but loses to the second and third one. However this didn’t matter because it is to lure Funai as the last person to play with him. They will settle everything and he will pay him back for all the betrayal.

However Funai will not play him and calls out to the guy who has the remaining 3 scissors cards. He will even give him enough stars to survive. However nobody responds. Kaiji then reminds him about an earlier incident when a guy was thrown out for trying to flush down his cards. Therefore there is no other players left on the field with cards except them. Funai tries to set the deal to play him but Kaiji will not accept less than 5 stars. Either way it will be the same for him. How? Because now they have 66 cards. Playing 1 with Funai means they have 65. If they draw, one will still be holding a card left and will go down. Kaiji will take the fall. So it is either Funai plays him or sinks with him. No choice, Funai plays and loses but this saves him. Kaiji’s group has a total of 10 stars now and even though they draw the remaining cards, Kaiji takes the fall with the single card left and is sent to the other room. Furuhata and Andou thank him and vow to save him. In the other room, he is stripped naked and put into a room with other losers behind a one-way mirror. He meets Okabayashi and Kouji Ishida who have been waiting for this moment. They have been sending out signals to their teammates for them to win. Because in the aftermath, those with 1 or 2 stars still have an option to buy stars. However they have 10 minutes to do so. Ishida realizes he has been betrayed because the person he teamed up with is now in the winner’s room. Kaiji is relieved that Furuhata and Andou get permission to save him. But when the bidding starts, all the desperate losers hound them to buy stars. Furuhata manages to sell and give one but are they going to do the same to the rest? They need the remaining 3 to save Kaiji. However after seeing the money, Andou decides not to sell the stars and doesn’t care about him.

Andou explains about the debt they’ll rake up if they save Kaiji. If they cut him off, they stand to pocket 10 million each if they leave this ship. While Kaiji is furious, there is nothing he can do as Furuhata even agrees to go with Andou. They start bidding to others to sell their excess stars. Okabayashi mocks Kaiji about friendship and money and everything about it. Because he has some money in hand, Okabayashi’s friends save him. As he is about to leave, Kaiji beats him up till the guards restrain him. Ishida wonders why he did that futile attempt but Kaiji has a plan. He notices Okabayashi does not have enough cash to pay for his freedom. This means he must have hid extra cash somewhere else. Only he knows the location or else his friends would have betrayed him. Because carrying so much cash will be dangerous at this point, he must have converted into some precious metal. Noticed the bandage on his back? It is where he hid his jewels! Once Okabayashi realizes it is missing, it is Kaiji’s turn to have the last laugh. He forces Okabayashi’s friends to save him if they want the jewels. They beat up Okabayashi and are forced to rescue Kaiji. Ishida can only lament by himself since he had already given up from the start. Once Kaiji is out, Andou and Furuhata are in shock. Save your explanation. He beats up Andou and slaps Furuhata. He takes back his stars and cash. He is sick of it all as he uses all his cash to buy the stars to free Ishida. Of course he is as poor as f*ck like them. Kaiji explains he is disgusted with everything that has happened on Espoir. The more they talk about money and fortune, the more they are being played into the hands of those who love watching them wallow in despair. He kicks a counter till it topples over? Well, it was a harrowing life and death experience he was hanging by a thread indeed.

Of the 103 participants, only 67 barely escaped. But only 29 managed to clear all debts. Although Kaiji has cleared his external debts of 3 million, he has new debts totalling to over 6 million from the ship. Kaiji is now working part time in a convenience store with an hourly pay of 900 Yen and his boss hates him. He finds it hard working in an environment with everyone being fake. One night before he leaves, the boss couldn’t find his envelope containing money. Of course he wants to search Kaiji’s bag but he wouldn’t. Calling him suspicious, Kaiji decides to gamble with him. If he checks and finds his money, Kaiji will pay a million. Otherwise Kaiji will get 100,000 Yen from him. The boss things he has hid the money somewhere that’s why he is confident of this gamble. This makes Kaiji mad and wants to kick his ass but his colleague, Makoto Sahara stops him. Later Sahara catches up with Kaiji to tell him that he too was suspected and searched. He quit on the spot. Kaiji knew he was the culprit. Because he must have stolen it and hid it somewhere and when the boss searched him and gave him the green light, quitting means he got a clean escape. Sahara admits to it and decides to treat Kaiji. After all, he hid the envelope in his bag! Kaiji is not impressed but Sahara is also observant. He can tell Kaiji is always suspicious when someone enters a door. Like as though somebody is after him. Sahara even plays a prank on him by leaving him a number supposedly from a man in black. So when Kaiji calls, it turns out to be Sahara’s handphone.

Human Derby
Kaiji is not impressed but on his way back, he sees Endou before him. Kaiji ignores him but Endou offers him another chance to clear off his debt in a single night. He is gathering participants for another party this weekend at a hotel. Kaiji will not accept but Sahara wants to participate. Kaiji tries to persuade Sahara this is a trap but Sahara thinks this is the only way a useless person like him can break out. Kaiji thinks he can repay back the debt with honest hard work but Endou calls him foolish and to open his eyes. With interests, his debts are already increased. At this rate he will only finish paying his debt in over 16 years. By that time he is already 40 years old. Can he wait around so long? Endou shows him 20 million and with more sweet talk for him to grab this chance. After some hard thinking, Kaiji takes up the offer. I mean, what has he got to lose, right? Right?!

Arriving at the basement of the hotel, he is not impressed to see Ishida here too. He suggests teaming up but Kaiji reminds him they are all enemies. Also here is Sahara. Kaiji sees some familiar faces from Espoir and those are the people he must be wary of. When the game begins, the 60 participants are told will be sent in groups of 12. They need volunteers for the first group. No other questions may be asked. At first everyone hesitates but after some volunteer and Kaiji realizes none are from Espoir, he too volunteers. Sahara and Ishida also volunteer to make up the first group. They are then put in a vertical coffin in which they can feel they are being carried and elevated. Once they reach the destination, they see the game. They are on a high elevation and must cross the steel beam. The first one wins it. There’s prize for second place too. However below are gamblers betting and cheering for them to run across. Everyone is shock in the first place but when the first one walks over and falls off, breaking all his bones, the betters laugh. Kaiji decides to take this opportunity to go but somebody in his lane jumps on him. With everyone finally moving, Kaiji realizes the beam is thinning. How can he overtake the guy in front? He has to push him off! That is what the crowd is cheering on. He better be fast because the guy behind him is catching up. Kaiji hesitates to push since he is feeling guilt. But soon after many others on other beams starts pushing.

Kaiji psychos himself about the dog eat dog world. Kill or be killed. So is he going to push after all that? Nah. He won’t push. But the guy behind him will. They struggle and although all 3 fall off, they manage to grab onto the beam. As per rules, touching it with your hands means disqualification. In the end, Sahara wins first place and Ishida takes second place. In the room where they wait, they can hear the next group participating. Even without watching, they can tell what happened. The later the groups, the lesser the survivors and the final group has only 1 man left standing. The winners are then given an envelope. However Sahara is mad that it isn’t cash but a ticket worth 20 million. Everyone is then ushered to the next stage. They are reminded that the ticket has an expiry date to cash in. That’s 2 hours from now.

Electric Current Steel Frame Crossing
They have to walk across another steel beam to reach a room opposite where they can cash it. Only catch is that this is 22 storeys high. Falling off means death. Since there is one spot for the second place open, the other survivors are welcome to join in. Although Sahara scorns at this sh*t, he is told off how normal people will slog their entire work life just to save this amount. You useless people participated in a game that didn’t even last 20 minutes and expect something great? If you want big money, you must risk your life for it. They are assured this one is real. If they reach it, they’ll get the cash. No strings attached. Kaiji accepts this challenge since this is not a competition and doesn’t have to push anyone off. He can take his time to cross. However there is just one slight change to the rule. The beam is also electrified. So if they touch it with their hands, their disqualification will also send them plunging to their deaths. With a few participants deciding to go for this death match, Sahara hesitates at first but decides to join in.

With 10 participants, those who do not participate are ushered away. Now all that is left is for them is to choose the order they are going. Kaiji motivates everyone up that they can do but Tonegawa knows it better. This false motivation is just hiding their fear. All will change when they cross halfway. Unknown to the participants, they are being filmed and watched by a group of powerful and wealthy people who control the world of money. These people have gotten over betting and gambling and are simply enjoying the despair of others. In other words, ultimate sadists. With 2 beams to cross, the participants get a move on. Halfway through, Kaiji suddenly starts hesitating. Fear catches up to him. It made him realize he wants to live. He doesn’t want to money and doesn’t care if he has debts up till 40. Things start to take a turn for the worse when a cold wind blows. Although it is for a short while, the first guy up ahead, Ota continues to feel the chills. Kaiji desperately tries to tell him it is all in his mind but Ota is already at his limits. He touches the beam, gets electrocuted and falls to his death. This leads to another guy can’t take this anymore. He tries to turn back but slips and falls. At this point with the others realizing they don’t want the damn prize and just wants to live, Kaiji tells Tonegawa to shut off the power because they don’t want to win anymore. However they’re not going to. They’ve been told the risks and dangers of the game and yet they want to back out when confronted with the situation. It shows they have never taken life seriously and never will. And then the inevitable happens.

One by one a chain reaction has the rest falling off. Only Kaiji, Sahara and Ishida are left. While Sahara screws it all and continues walking ahead, Ishida is too scared to move. It might seem over for him when he starts losing his balance but surprisingly he recovers. However he knows he cannot hold on much longer. He passes his ticket to Kaiji and hopes he can win it for him and pass it to his wife who is in debt because of him. Kaiji doesn’t care about all that and wants Ishida to do it himself. However Ishida realizes himself as a useless loser who baulks at the end. Kaiji is different. He is the kind who rises up to the occasion and can win. Kaiji tells Ishida he is the greatest human because in his last moment he could still think of somebody else other than himself. The next time Kaiji looks back, Ishida is already gone. Kaiji is distraught to realize Ishida fell silently so as not to agitate him. Kaiji and Sahara trudge on but the wind is starting to keep up. Their voices assure each other and keep the other ‘warm’. It might seem Sahara has lost it but he makes a mad dash and jumps. He manages to cling on to the ledge of the finish point. However Kaiji could see smiling people behind the window. He feels something amiss and warns Sahara not to open. Unfortunately when he opens the window, the difference in pressure causes a gust of wind and blows Sahara off!

Kaiji sees people standing behind the window on the floor above. Then he could see… Magical stairs? He is not seeing things. There seems to be a hidden flight of glass stairs. Could this be a secret path? He is suspicious at first it might be a trap but decides to take the plunge. Once his feet lands on the solid glass, he screams victory. Once he enters the building, the organizers congratulate him but Kaiji is not impressed and wants his money now. Unfortunately Tonegawa tells him he forfeited that right during the crossing. Remember he told him to cut the power and doesn’t want the money? Well, they did cut the power but there were some delays in doing so. So it was at that point Kaiji and co forfeited their right. Kaiji is mad and wants to kill him. However the big boss, Kazutaka Hyoudou wants to give Kaiji another chance seeing it was their fault they delayed the power cut. He views Kaiji as different and rare that the other trash. He wants to test his ability and agility of his soul via this game, E Card. Of course the risk is high and he stands to get back 100 million. He won’t be forced to participate but if he chooses not to, they can’t pay his compensation for crossing the bridge. Kaiji reluctantly agrees so as not to make the other deaths in vain.

He is shocked when he stumbles into the room filled with participants who broke their bones falling off the first bridge. Hyoudou seems to be enjoying hurting them. He explains he never helped anyone even when he is loaded with money. He trusts the truth of this principle that no matter how much he hurts them, he doesn’t feel their pain. It all boils down to his own happiness. He believes all these losers want him to torture them. For money. So for every pain they feel, he throws them money. He adds about kings and the poor in his explanation. The poor can overthrow the king if they don’t desire money. However kings will always rule over the poor as long as the poor keeps thinking about money. Money that they need just to become kings. A fruitless paradox they cannot escape. As long as the king provides sufficient comfort, uprisings will not happen no matter how hard kings drive them.

E Card
Tonegawa explains E Card. Each player will have 10 cards of 3 variants: 1 Emperor, 8 Citizens and 1 Slave. Emperor > Citizen > Slave > Emperor. You either take the Emperor or Citizen’s side. As Kaiji has wagered his life and there is no money to bet, Kaiji will now have to wager losing his sight or hearing. They will bet in millimetres and Kaiji as 30mm safety. The minimum bet is 1mm. If Kaiji wins, he gets 100,000 Yen but this is amplified if he bets more millimetres. That is only on the Emperor side. If he is on the Slave side, the reward is 5 times more. Since there is a maximum of 12 rounds, this is a relatively safe game for Kaiji since he can make the minimum bet and not lose his wager at all. But if he wants to clear his 20 million debt, he has to take the big risk. Kaiji scorns this benevolence of theirs since they showed no mercy when they let the other participants fall to their death. But still, Kaiji is going to win as he has already come this far. Kaiji choses the Emperor’s side first and wagers his hearing. He bets 10mm. Might as well go all the way. As the first round begins, the first card has them tie with Citizens. Kaiji puts up Emperor which beats Tonegawa’s Citizen. His first win earns him a million bucks. The second round, Kaiji follows the same pattern and also wins another million. Kaiji is getting pretty confident but Tonegawa’s wary smile throws caution to the wind. In the third round, Kaiji decides to change his pattern and put his Emperor on the third card. But it seems Tonegawa can read his mind and puts out his Slave. Kaiji loses and the drill inches 10mm closer. It’s deafening. Kaiji thinks Tonegawa’s mind reading is a bluff. Tonegawa claims he is only 50% right in his deduction. He has gambled so much that he can read people’s minds through experience. During the break, Kaiji checked the cards for any markings but none. Even Tonegawa knows about this and assures him they will not do such petty things. In fact they should be wary if Kaiji does any marking.

With the fourth round, Kaiji and Tonegawa switches card sides. Kaiji bets 2mm. First card has them both put Citizens. The second card Kaiji puts Slave but Tonegawa’s card is Citizen. For the fifth round, Kaiji thinks Tonegawa might put out his Emperor first but after all that thinking, thinks he won’t and true enough both put out Citizen. Kaiji is starting to feel the pressure of trying to guess what kind of card Tonegawa is going to put out and all his theories might not be relevant at this point. He thought of using fear as his trump card thinking that Tonegawa has more to fear if he loses to him. Although Kaiji cannot sense Tonegawa’s fear, he wants to try create it. He chooses Slave as his second card but Tonegawa puts Citizen. Kaiji is inching closer to breaking down so on the sixth round, Kaiji bets 10mm. He also uses his same tactic but surprisingly Tonegawa plays Emperor on his second card. Switching sides now, Kaiji is now starting to fear that he bets 1mm (seeing there are only 6 games left and 6 mm to his eardrum). Tonegawa explains why he knows what card Kaiji is putting. Kaiji might think this is a psychological game but it involves emotions too. Tonegawa has observed very well Kaiji’s habits, the character he puts forth when he puts out certain cards. It’s like reading him like a book. Fearful Kaiji puts out Emperor on his first card in the seventh round but Tonegawa has Slave! For the eighth round, Kaiji puts up his first 4 Citizen cards and Tonegawa matches them. This means knowing their last cards in hand, Tonegawa automatically wins. Kaiji is close to losing it. His hearing and his sanity.

For the ninth round on the second card, Kaiji wants to put out Emperor. But he hesitates greatly and ends up putting forth Citizen. He is regretting his decision when surprisingly Tonegawa’s card is Slave! This unexpected win for Kaiji makes Hyoudou mad as he beats up Tonegawa for losing a match he is supposed to win. On the tenth round, Kaiji loses again. Then he starts to think deeply certain words Tonegawa said as hints that would have put him at disadvantage. Factoring in Hyoudou’s actions, he thinks they are cheating. But how are they seeing his cards? There are no other cheats. The only ones who can see his cards is himself. He notices Tonegawa isn’t really looking at his cards but his own watch. It must have some sort of transmitter that sends Kaiji’s heartbeat to him. The ear device must be transmitting the data. Making Kaiji choose the device was just eliminating his suspicions and giving him a fake sense of security. Kaiji thinks he has a way to win. Learning that the device can drill up to 45mm and he is already at 27mm, Kaiji beats the remaining 18mm. Tonegawa is surprised and reminds him doing so might get killed but Hyoudou is more than happy to accept it since coincidentally if Kaiji wins the remaining 2 matches, he can clear all his debts. Kaiji needs time to think and washes himself in the toilet. A spectator talks to him and like the rest wants him to survive and they don’t want him to be reckless. Kaiji gets an idea and has this guy help him out. First he punches the mirror. Then he bangs his head like as though he wants to destroy the device. Tonegawa knows what he is doing as he can still read his body readings. Kaiji then takes a glass and cuts!

Kaiji returns for the 11th game and Tonegawa can still read Kaiji’s readings although he thinks some of them are off. Maybe it is the loss of blood. First card as usual, both Citizens. For the second card, Tonegawa tests him by showing a Citizen. Kaiji’s shock reaction but his readings don’t reflect it means he is bluffing. So Tonegawa puts out his Emperor, causing Kaiji to go into tears. The baddies are relishing to see his death when Kaiji opens his Slave card! That is when Tonegawa realizes too late. Kaiji cut his ear and the device is in the hands of one of the participants, that is why the readings were off. Hyoudou is so disappointed in Tonegawa and berates him as a man who can only take instructions but fail to rise up in emergencies. He is going to get demoted, blah, blah, blah. At this point, Kaiji thinks of taking advantage of Tonegawa letting his guard down but it is a risky trap. If he doesn’t take it now, when will he? Kaiji gives Tonegawa a chance to redeem his honour for the final game.

Hyoudou praises Kaiji for taking risks unlike others who want to stay in their comfort zone. Therefore if Kaiji wins, he will give him his money and make Tonegawa grovel in apology and more as per his request. Otherwise he dies. Another device is placed on his ear. For the first time Tonegawa is panicking because he has no instruments to read. So he is taking an awful long time to decide that Kaiji chides him for it. This riles up Tonegawa but he thinks this might be Kaiji’s tactic to catch him off guard. Tonegawa puts Citizen on the first card. Kaiji expects it. A draw. For the second card, Tonegawa notices blood stains on it. He remembers they are the cards played on the previous round so it could either be Citizen or Slave. Both put out Citizen. Tonegawa is confident his other stained card is Slave but then he has qualms if this is a trap. Maybe he wiped it clean. He opts of Citizen and Kaiji does the same. The final battle in the fourth card. Tonegawa sees Kaiji putting forth a blood stained card and is sure it is Slave. But then he hesitates. What if this is an elaborate trap? Kaiji may have purposely stained the cards and then switched them in a bid to make him think so. Therefore both stained cards are Citizens. He may look like he is in pain but he is a sneaky backstabbing snake underneath all that. That’s why he is a warrior. After all that contemplation, Tonegawa puts forth is Emperor. Kaiji then thanks him for being the snake. Tonegawa thought of reading other person’s thoughts but end up asking himself what to do in that situation. That makes him the snake. Kaiji unveils his card: Slave! Kaiji wins the impossible!

Tonegawa wants an explanation as he thought Kaiji switched his card. This strategy worked because Tonegawa suspected him. Kaiji did switch cards but not as he thought. He just switched them closer. Despite Hyoudou complained about him, Kaiji knew and respected Tonegawa as first rate. A guy like him would notice the blood stains and come up with all that analysis. Because Tonegawa views himself superior than all the other scums and trash of society as he has always won, setting him apart from the rest and cultivating his arrogance. With Kaiji winning, now he wants Tonegawa to kneel and apologize. However Hyoudou doesn’t think it is that simple. Tonegawa might kneel as much as he wants but the question is the sincerity of the heart. Hyoudou knows what it means because he was betrayed before. Borrowers apologized to borrow money but when it is time to repay, they disappear and the sincerity gone. Therefore to truly test one’s sincerity, Tonegawa will kneel on this burning iron platform! He will do so for at least 10 seconds. Failure to do so, he will repeat it as much as it takes. If he doesn’t want to do it, there is a contraption that will make him do it. Of course Tonegawa will do it himself. He begins the kneeling and it seems like eternity. It is just painful watching him get burnt and Kaiji even cries for him! Eventually Tonegawa lasted 12 seconds and passed out. Later in the toilet, Kaiji realizes he was mistaken. Tonegawa isn’t the real enemy. He was just a puppet like all of them. The real enemy is Hyoudou as he revelled in watching others in pain. He wants to fight him and avenge his fallen friends for real but the others persuade him he already has won the impossible, the money enough to clear his debts to start anew. He relents since he has no plan on how to take Hyoudou down. They help him do first aid and even bring back his cut ear, giving hope the hospital might reattach it. They thank Kaiji for fighting and winning for them too. But when Kaiji leaves with them, he gets inspiration on how to defeat the final boss.

Tissue Box Lottery
So this tissue box gives him inspiration? He notices that instead from the top, the side can be opened too. Based on the box’s design, he notices a small slip of paper can be inserted from the side and won’t fall out. It is well hidden and can be pulled out from the inside. Taking paper towels and a pen, he has set up the perfect final gamble: Lottery. It will be a game to see how can be the first to draw the winning paper. Of course he will hide that paper inside this secret side. He will hide this in all the boxes so that when a subordinate brings in any one of the boxes, Kaiji’s victory can be assured. But isn’t this cheating? Kaiji points out everyone has been cheating from the start. If he is going to it, he will be going all out to win. The rest argue about the shortfalls which include the chance of Hyoudou picking up the winning paper on his first try. I guess there is that small risk. What if after Kaiji picks the winning paper and they check the box only to find another winning card? So he’ll lie his way? What if they check the other tissue boxes? One will stay behind and after the subordinate picks it, he’ll flush the evidence down the toilet. There are other tissue boxes from other manufacturers which means not the same design. Hide that. Kaiji is ready and now talks to Hyoudou to convince him to gamble. However Hyoudou argues Kaiji must be feeling lucky now and must know when to stop. When Kaiji thinks he is chickening out and will be embarrassed by his defeat, Hyoudou doesn’t think so. Why should he feel embarrassed? He knows he cannot win all the time like how pros cannot always win against every amateur. Kaiji knows he is trying to give forced excuses. He is relentless on mistakes and losses of others but on himself he quickly worms his way out. It makes Tonegawa and his fallen comrades better people than him.

After all that bugging, Hyoudou agrees. But Kaiji won’t play E Card or any other game he suggests in fear there will be cheating. So as not to make it look suspicious, Kaiji acts and pretends to think of a game. Then he ‘gets an idea’ and starts ‘creating’ it. At first he draws many uneven circles to throw on the floor. This is to avoid suspicions when they check the box after the game, there will be many circles to hide it. When a subordinate brings in the tissue box, Kaiji checks it and then lets Hyoudou check it. Nothing. Pass. After emptying it, Hyoudou sounds like he doesn’t want to go through with it because for such a simple game he took a long time to prepare. But he’ll play along at Kaiji’s request although he has a few conditions. First, the winning paper cannot be crumpled or else he might be hiding a pre-prepared one and just take it out. Secondly, before reaching one’s hand in the box, they have to roll up their sleeves and show they’re not hiding anything. Hyoudou will also like to go first. Because if by chance Kaiji picks the winning paper on the first go, it’ll be a shame Hyoudou won’t even have a chance to play. Last, the wager. Hyoudou suggests betting 100 million each. Kaiji certainly doesn’t have that much money. That’s why he will wage his fingers! 20 million each! So he’ll lose 4 in total. Kaiji reconsiders if the risk is worth it. Losing outweighs than what he has now but since he has come this far, he can’t back down. He’ll bet his fingers. Hyoudou is revved up. To make it look like fair, they both insert the winning paper inside together. Hyoudou draws first. And then he trolls Kaiji like as though he pulled the winning paper! A blank. Gotcha! Yeah, Kaiji is scared the sh*t out of his pants. Now it is Kaiji’s turn. He inserts his hand and tries to grab it at the secret location. It’s not there. Try again. Not there. Really. Oh sh*t. OH SH*T!!!! Panic sets in as he wonders if it got loose and dropped somewhere. He prays to God harder than ever to win on his first try by chance. Did God listen to his prayer? No. Blank. This only gives fuel to Hyoudou to taunt him more because it’s like giving him a second chance, no?

Could Hyoudou be trolling again because he is saying crap like he is going to use his luck to win this time. He could have used it the first time but wanted to give Kaiji a chance. So as Kaiji is hoping is call is a bluff and praying a miracle would happen, he unthinkable happen. Hyoudou pulls out the winning paper! It’s true! Kaiji is in despair but instead of begging for his life, he accepts his loss and to lose with pride. Hyoudou respects him and gives him this winning paper as luck for next time. Kaiji loses his money and his fingers. In the aftermath when they check the box, they don’t see the winning paper they planted. But Kaiji noticed a paper crumpled up in the corner. It turns out to be their planted winning paper. Then Kaiji realizes how Hyoudou pulled off this miracle. This paper had a crease. It was folded. When they both put in the paper together, Hyoudou folded it to mark it. When he went first, he must have took the planted paper and crumpled it. But how did Hyoudou know of this plan? Because after witnessing Kaiji’s match with Tonegawa, he knows Kaiji is the kind of guy who would think instead of relying on luck in a game of high stakes. This means the moment he accepted the 100 million pay-out, Hyoudou knew Kaiji had setup something. But Kaiji knows he has himself to blame. He realizes he could have won because Hyoudou gave him 1 chance. But instead Kaiji did what he should not: Prayed to God. He should know better than to rely on something else other than himself. No use thinking in retrospect, right? Well, let’s hope he could get his revenge on Hyoudou the next time. If that ever happens.

Season 2

Hell
Kaiji is back to his old sloth ways and because he has raked up almost 10 million in debt, he is on the run from MIBs. His debt includes reattachment of his ear and fingers from underground clinics. He thought he found salvation when he meets Endou. Actually that guy has been demoted to collect debts. He is not pleased Kaiji is begging to him for another gamble and is sure to win. But Endou knocks him out and brings him to a place where he will be working for 15 years to clear his debts. It is an underground hard labour where the disappeared go. They even have their own currency, perica. It is the same routine every day so Kaiji plans to escape. He knows the tight security and taking hostage is futile. So he is going to work and save hard so he could buy a single day off in which he will go gamble and win big. Payday comes and Kaiji starts saving his money. However the foreman, Ootsuki tempts him with beer on the house. Kaiji drinks it and feels good. He couldn’t resist the temptation as he buys more beer and snacks to spoil himself as Ootsuki tells it to him. He thought he could resist the next time but succumbs to temptation again. Before he knows it, Kaiji has blown more money than he can save. Can he last till the end of the month? That is when Ootsuki moves in and can advance him some money. Of course there must be something in it for him too. So if Kaiji has no money, how can he earn more? Ootsuki suggests going back to his old ways of gambling. Kaiji agrees to participate after being convinced he can get double the amount and pay off his debts to Ootsuki tonight.

Underground Chinchiro
Ootsuki gets special permission to hold a gambling session. Since we have Kaiji and a young newbie, Tomohiro Miyoshi first time playing this triple dice game called chinchiro, we are explained some of the rules. It’s a bit confusing so I’m going to skip a little. What I understand is that you have 3 tries to roll the 3 dice. The goal is to get a pair and the odd one out is your number. The one with the highest number among the players wins. So if you don’t get any pairs and all are different numbers, you go bust. Of course there are special rules like those with double, triple or big pay outs like getting triplets or 4-5-6 roll. Then there are underground rules special only applied to this place like the dealer cannot win automatically on the first go and the dealer can pass. As the game begins, Kaiji makes small bets just to feel the flow. But as the game goes on, he cannot get the flow and despite his winnings, the amount is so small that it frustrates him. Then he decides to take a gamble with a big bet of 3,000. It is Miyoshi’s turn as dealer and he rolls the weakest play. The bowl is now at Kaiji’s hands as he begins his roll. For the first time he has bad luck. He rolls again and by the third roll, he hits the ultimate worst combination of 1-2-3. This means his loss is doubled. The angry gambler inside him hates losing and instead of backing down, he pushes his luck again in the next round betting again another 3,000. When he increases his bet to 5,000, lady luck shines on him and he wins big with 4-5-6.

So when it is his turn as dealer now, everyone else is scared and only places small amounts. This frustrates Kaiji but Ootsuki and his lackey, Isawa decide to ‘celebrate’ his big bet by placing the maximum 20,000. This means if Kaiji loses, he cannot afford to pay them back and will have to take another advance. This leads Kaiji to berate him as a worst human being. He lashes out that Ootsuki leeches off on the hard work and pay of others by offering the same food and drinks. He also knows everyone here has ganged up against him to break him. Kaiji rolls and he rolls a strong number. Everyone takes their turn to roll and fails to get any better. Kaiji wins big. He has enough to pay off his advances and still has some for himself. Kaiji is revelling in his victory but as dealer he must go another round. Kaiji rolls another strong number and becomes very confident (bordering arrogant) that he can win this. So when Ootsuki reminds him that everyone still has a chance to win no matter how small it is and the reliance of willpower, Kaiji laughs it off. When Isawa rolls, he gets 4-5-6. And when Ootsuki rolls, he gets triplets. Luck has abandoned Kaiji as he has to pay double and triple respectively. This means the money he has now cannot cover the pay out and he is back in debt hell of 20,000.

Kaiji along with Miyoshi received only half pay as the rest are taken by Ootsuki. These men are called 45s. Kaiji has given up to get his day off seeing it is impossible to save up that much and that vacation still depends on management’s approval. So he enjoys himself with whatever pay he has. But when a colleague gets sick and is thrown into the medic room where many others also face the same predicament, he becomes scared in learning men whose bodies have broken down will never return because you need money to cover medical expenses. Debt for life. This convinces Kaiji to save up but his weak resolve means he is tempted to blow it again. This is when Miyoshi stops him and thinks they can save for their day off. Kaiji thinks he is only positive because of his small win. Miyoshi shows the data record of the chinchiro. Kaiji notices Ootsuki seems to be winning on certain games. He spots a pattern. He knows he is cheating and is mad. He realizes there is a way to beat him but he needs numbers. So he talks to the 45s while Ootsuki holds another gambling session with others. He tells them about this and accurately predicts Ootsuki’s outcome on one turn. The rest are convinced that he is cheating and even more so when Kaiji explains how Ootsuki is keeping a stack of money for selling snacks and drinks to them. Kaiji suggests forming an alliance to take down Ootsuki and his subordinates in one big fell swoop. They have only one chance and nobody else must know about this. Kaiji has everyone pool their money and need to build up their funds more. They are going to win big enough for all of them to win a day off.

While Kaiji is on nursing duty, a guy named Hiromitsu Ishida recognizes him. He is the son of Ishida. Like father, like son? This guy seems to be blaming his father for failing to clear his debts. Kaiji cannot stand his trash talk and slaps him! He tells him off Ishida is clearly a different man from him and definitely better than this trash who depends on others. Ootsuki and his men notice the 45s trying to save up and clear their debt. So they trick them to go shower and when they come back, their food is gone (because it is meal time is over). This has Ootsuki tempting to share their food with him with no charge. However Kaiji splashes beer on his face. Ootsuki doesn’t lose his cool and instead ‘forgives’ him. Because the cameras are watching. Over the next many days, Kaiji and his group face daily harassment from doing dangerous work and almost getting killed. This is of course part of Kaiji’s plan. The more Ootsuki harasses him, the more the noose around his neck tightens. Hiromitsu only observes and cannot understand why Kaiji is enduring all this. During payday, Kaiji shows his distrust by counting his pay in front of Ootsuki. All this is being watched by Yoshihiro Kurosaki, the second in command after Hyoudou. He is here to check out Kaiji and notes he still hasn’t lose his fangs.

Gambling night is here. Ootsuki is on a winning streak and Kaiji notes the difficult timing. He needs to have Ootsuki invite him so that they could finish their business and true enough he does. Kaiji then warns he will add a rule that there will be no maximum bet. Ootsuki agrees. Kaiji notices Numakawa, Ootsuki’s other henchman won’t deal so this proves that this tactic only works on Ootsuki and Isawa in their current formation. Kaiji bets 20,000 and some are disappointed thinking he would have bet more. Isawa is the dealer and rolls 4-5-6. Kaiji losses big. In the next round, Kaiji only bets 1,000. He wins but only a small one. With everyone disappointed, this is actually part of Kaiji’s plan as he predicted of this big loss and small win whereby he will be marked as a loser. When Ootsuki tells him to get out, that is when Kaiji places all his money. That’s 52,000. He also signals to the 45s to come in. All of them bet their maximum and their total bet amounts to 507,000! Ootsuki is now sweating as he realizes too late they planned it all out. Could it be they want to become legends because win or lose big, the crowd is now cheering his name.

Ootsuki thinks Kaiji knows his magic dice trick. A year ago he got this special dice which only has 4, 5 and 6 numbers. This means they cannot throw a low hand. He conspires with Isawa and Numakawa on how to cheat the other players by changing some new rules. That is why Isawa and Ootsuki can roll big winners because they have the special dice. Once it comes to Numakawa’s turn, he switches them back to normal dice. Ootsuki is now forced to use ordinary dice. A close 4-5-6 but still a bust. He notices Kaiji and others not reacting. Do they not know this trick? Could he just be overthinking? Ootsuki throws a second time. Another near one but still a bust. Still no reaction from Kaiji and co. This makes Ootsuki thinks they don’t really know and the reason they put up a large bet is because to make him cautious and not cheat and just acting tough. This is when Ootsuki decides to use his magic dice on his final throw. Even if Kaiji is going to inspect the dice after it, he cannot snatch it fast enough as Numakawa will be faster. So how? Before the dice stops rolling, Kaiji snatches them! Ootsuki and his henchmen wrestle and try to get the dice from him as Kaiji reveals to everyone they were cheating. The former foreman, Odagiri will handle this and takes the dice from Kaiji’s hands. It is then revealed the magic dice that Ootsuki have been using.

Ootsuki is now interrogated as the crowd is mad for his cheating. Kaiji reveals his observations from Miyoshi’s notes that he always rolls a good hand on all his first moves. That’s when he planned a showdown. When Kaiji and 45s placed a huge bet, this is to make Ootsuki suspicious that they are on to him. Kaiji knows when he used the magic dice because normally when the dice is thrown, everyone will be focused on the bowl. But he noticed Ootsuki was looking at Kaiji to see if there is any reaction. Had he not looked at him like that, he would have grabbed the dice. Because Kaiji never told everyone about his trick, the reason their reaction was genuine. So when Ootsuki decided to use his magic dice, his focus was all on the bowl. With the crowd getting angrier, Ootsuki realizes his mistake and greed of walking right into Kaiji’s trap and agitation. He thinks he can turn this around by saying that he wasn’t cheating because that roll wasn’t finished and thus doesn’t count. But the crowd is not convinced. Surprisingly Kaiji agrees. He suggests continuing the game but they will use their own special dice. Ootsuki thinks Kaiji is a fool to give him a chance to redeem. The most he might lose is a million or two so it’s nothing. Ootsuki rolls the weakest hand of his magic dice. When it is Kaiji’s turn, he thinks they need to make Ootsuki pay more. So he takes out his special dice that only contain all 1! Snake eyes! Remember, Ootsuki agreed to everyone using their own special dice. So when Kaiji and co roll snake eyes in which the pay-out is 5 times more, they win over 2 million! Ootsuki is heart breaking having to pay this out from his special stash of almost 20 million. However Kaiji says it is not over yet. Ootsuki is the dealer and he has to roll again. The rules haven’t changed. All’s fair, right? Yeah, he’s f*cked. With Kaiji and 45s betting all their winnings amounting to 3 million, they set to win over 15 million!

With Kurosaki coming in and agreeing with Kaiji’s logic, he tells Ootsuki that he might be able to draw and save himself using normal dice and getting snake eyes. Though, the odds are 1/216. Pray real hard. Of course he failed and the total pay-out is 18 million. Kaiji decides to split evenly among the 45s. Although they argue Kaiji should get more because he did most of the work, he credits everyone for their trust. They believed in him and not question him despite Kaiji never explained how he was going to win. This trust is the reason why they won against Ootsuki. Kaiji then makes a deal with Kurosaki that there will be no other conditions for the day off. Kurosaki agrees believing it will encourage others to work harder for this.

Bog Pachinko
Kaiji is out and freedom has never tasted so good. But there is a timer on his wrist to indicate how much time he has left outside. It seems the other 45s decide to pool their resources and give Kaiji extra money and day offs. They figure it is better for him to bet and win big than each of them to bet and win the same amount. Yeah, make him do all the work again. But he’s got all the luck, right? They believe he is a nice guy and can be trusted because he trusted in them. So Kaiji has now 20 days and turn 800,000 Yen into 60 million to buy freedom for all. He knows normal casinos cannot make big killings and he needs to go underground. When a group of people is trying to rob Kaiji, he acts tough and shows his reattached fingers and scares the hell out of them. This impresses Koutarou Sakazaki who has been watching him and notes he is different. He has been trying to find guys like him for gambling and takes him to an unassuming building where there is a hidden casino with bets of high stakes. But the main draw is the pachinko because each ball costs 10 or 100 times more than the average. Then there is the mother of all pachnikos called Bog in which each ball is 1,000 times the normal bet. But if you succeed in getting a ball through 3 correct holes, you stand to win all the balls that other losers lost while playing this. This means a huge amount of 500 to 600 million Yen! Has anybody ever won it? Only 2 in history. Guess who? Hyoudou and Tonegawa! They won billions. This makes it even more suspicious because it could be an inside job. I mean, the house would lose big if somebody genuine had actually won it, right?

Kaiji crashes at Sakazaki’s place. He is shown a mini pachinko. Sakazaki knows somebody who works inside the place and paid millions for this and to keep quiet. With this, they can figure out how Bog works. However Sakazaki won’t tell Kaiji how to operate until the day they take action. Call it insurance. At first Sakazaki will give him only 5% of the cut and although enough to clear Kaiji’s debts, not enough to free 45s. Kaiji negotiates for 10% or else. Sakazaki agrees. Since they are going to do it 6 days from now. He shows Kaiji a maintenance schedule in which he also paid a lot to get. On that day, this is when the Bog has its monthly pin maintenance. This means the pins are looser compared to other days. A paper slips out from the schedule. Sakazaki panics and snatches it back. On the night before the attempt, Sakazaki is acting crazy like as though God has not abandoned him. Next day, he shows Kaiji their war funds of 50 million Yen. He is supposed to only have 20 so did he get this from the loan shark? On the contrary. Sakazaki works as a security in some firm. The paper is a safe combination from his boss. He took some of the money out. Because his boss is having his own issues, he won’t notice. They’ll win big and put it back. Of course this is illegal but they can’t be concerned of what is illegal or not. Win first! Kaiji is then told the plan and he can’t believe it is this simple.

After Sakazaki is body searched, he is allowed to play at the Bog. He takes the maximum bet of 10 million and begins his attempt. He has everyone cheer for him and assures everyone will get a share. Kaiji narrates the odds of winning is 1/5,400! Also, this is the trick they’re going to use to win. Sakazaki showed him that using a magnet can attract the balls. Because Sakazaki will be heavily searched, he needs an accomplice outside. They will hide it in a beer can and switch it with Kaiji during the tense moments. After all, the staffs do not check the onlookers. When Sakazaki wins, during the commotion, Kaiji will swap back the can and leave the building while Sakazaki is being checked again, removing all evidence of cheating. Everything goes as planned but when Sakazaki tries to use the magnet, it doesn’t seem to work. Kaiji then overhears the staff talking about using the block or something. He realizes they have been setup and tries to signal Sakazaki to stop and the need to strategize but he continues to be too focused on the Bog. In the end, he has already blown 20 million. In the toilet as Kaiji reveals they are on to them, he wants Sakazaki to give up now. But Sakazaki thinks they’ll still be alright because they don’t know about their magnet trick. Kaiji tells him to give up now because from this point on he will be gambling somebody else’s money. Leave now and he can stay a free man. But Sakazaki is furious. He has gambled everything and the only way out is to win back his losses. It will be fine as long as they don’t activate the block. Unheeding Kaiji’s advice, Sakazaki continues his gamble.

The staff sees the casino’s boss, Seiya Ichijou. He tells to just activate the block. He also knows about Kaiji. The block is activated and Kaiji knows it because the balls are now bouncing off. Sakazaki might have a little luck left since some that bounced off bounced back in from the side. However all is for naught one none really entered the hole he wanted. Sakazaki feels defeated and this is where Ichijou comes down. They think their trick has been exposed when Ichijou takes the can. He gives it back to Sakazaki and tells him to continue. Oh, he explains that today’s balls are made of brass to stem that magnetic trick. In the end, Sakazaki ends the game and has only 6 million left. Sakazaki back home thinks of gambling the ponies to make back their money and take another chance. Kaiji advises to take the remaining money and run away to another country but this only makes him crazier. When a pachinko ball accidentally drops out from his pocket, Kaiji gets an idea and returns to the casino to observe the Bog. He spends the entire day watching it till Ichijou and his men come down to do a little maintenance. Then Kaiji barges into the staff room to tell them to pay up for this single pachinko ball. Ichijou pays him but Kaiji hangs around in the room and observes certain spots. Ichijou remains cool and gives him his card that allows him to eat and drink free in this casino. Kaiji rips it apart. Ichijou continues to remain cool as he mocks Kaiji he will soon go back to the underground life. After Kaiji leaves, he goes in search of an empty room without electricity. He knows a way to defeat Bog.

When Kaiji returns to tell Sakazaki about it, his place is trashed and a letter from him saying he has gone to test his luck at the horse race. Kaiji continues observing the Bog and while resting at an ice cream shop, he hears rumours about a building under construction for a year. He confirms something and gets another idea. Then he goes to find Sakazaki at the horse race and stops him in time before he makes all his bet. Sakazaki is crazy believing his horse would win because of some bad pun. Well, what do you know? It ends up in last place. Kaiji then tells him his plan but they need more money and manpower. Kaiji has this person whom he can get involve. That guy is Endou and it seems he is being hit with hard times. Getting harassed by loan sharks? A taste of his own medicine? Kaiji talks to him about defeating Bog and he needs cash upfront as well as manpower, guys who are willing to dirty their hands. He agrees after hearing him out as he has got a bone to pick with his employer. Endou does his calculation on the interest of the money and manpower he will loan. Wow. It sure really adds up. Kaiji is upset despite the debt coming up to 130 million, he still wants a 50% cut on the Bog’s winnings. Endou claims he is sticking his neck out for him and if Kaiji fails, he will also fail. That is when Sakazaki pops up and can’t go through with this. Kaiji calms him down and then renegotiate with this deal. After signing the contract for their cut, Endou gives Kaiji 5 million upfront.

Sakazaki enters the illegal casino again but this time wearing a monk’s attire. For luck? While playing, Ichijou cannot sense his gambling lust. Like as though he is acting it all out. Sakazaki loses his entire 6 million. After that he goes crazy and tries to destroy the machine while claiming it cheats. While the staffs restrain him, Ichijou again feels strain. It’s like as though he is acting to distract them. Then it hit him. This is just a distraction. Ichijou and the staffs run back to the control room to catch Kaiji red handed snooping around. Ichijou then shows Kaiji the wall off money behind security laden features. He knows Kaiji barged into the staff room to look for a safe as an illegal casino must stack up on large amount of cash. If it is not there it must be in the control room. He thinks he hopes to find the safe and crack it another day. While Sakazaki is beaten up, they can’t ‘damage’ Kaiji too much because if he is unable to work after being sent back underground, they will replace him. Instead, Ichijou uses a device to tear out Kaiji’s fingernails! OH SH*T! All 10 fingers! A few days later, a new Bog is replaced and nobody played it. On the last day of Kaiji’s freedom, he is back to challenge the Bog again. He has the money. 50 million. This makes Ichijou sceptical. Did he not learn his lesson? They wonder if the Bog is rigged but with close guarding and maintenance it isn’t possible. With Kaiji mocking the unbeatable Bog, Ichijou accepts his challenge.

Ichijou gets a call from Kurosaki. He scolds him for letting Kaiji play because this means he has a plan. Ichijou is confident he will win. Kurosaki hopes so because if he loses, it is the end of him and will be made an example out of. Kaiji starts playing. It seems there are more balls entering the tray than usual. Ichijou then stops Kaiji from continuing and believes he has cheated. He claims Kaiji switched the balls with smaller ones and that is why more are coming through. He uses a tray for standard balls to prove it. But it matches. Kaiji is using valid balls. What if the tray is fake? Nope. It’s valid. Then he realizes it. Because nobody has been playing the Bog and they were the only ones maintaining it, they might have loosen the pins and make the path wider. Rushing back to the room, they realize their maintenance tools have been switched. Noticing concrete dust in it, they head up to the empty room above. They see a big hole on the floor. For the past few days, Kaiji must have used this vent to switch the tools. Ichijou panics and has his men activate the block. Everyone realizes something is wrong when the balls do not go in anymore. Even the balls that bounced off from the side don’t work anymore.

Kaiji finishes his million and shocks everyone by having another 10 million go. Ichijou gets a call from HQ to broadcast footage from the security cameras. Hyoudou will of course be watching this and he also has it broadcast to the underground labour camp. He wants to see how powerless they are as they are rooting for Kaiji to win. Because if Kaiji loses, the amount of debts he has racked will be cleared in over a century! Forever trapped in this hell hole! So he better win this. At this point he has already used up all his balls and puts in another 10 million. The crowd wonders why he is keeping up with this fruitless endeavour. Suddenly the flippers cannot close properly and letting the balls in! After all that hitting it seems the handles have crooked! Flashback has Kaiji explaining to Endou that in order to make this happen, the Bog needs to be destroyed so when the maintenance crew comes to fix it, they’ll swap the flippers with this one fitted with some sort of candy. The chemical reaction inside the flippers will cause the metal to bend but this will come into effect after an hour. Because Ichijou will be suspicious, they will use his cleverness against him to remove it all. Like Sakazaki smashing the Bog and Kaiji sneaking into the control room.

Ichijou stops the game when Kaiji wants to put in another 10 million to continue. He believes Kaiji is cheating and swapped the flippers during the maintenance. However Kaiji tells him back when he was cheating activating the block, he didn’t say anything. Because he had no proof. And now you want to accuse him of rigging the Bog? The crowd rallies behind Kaiji and they know the casino has been cheating and wants Ichijou to continue Kaiji playing. Ichijou then gets a call from Hyoudou himself. Oh sh*t. He berates Ichijou for his poor showing. He wants Ichijou to accept Kaiji’s game. Although Ichijou can stop the game if Kaiji is cheating, however that is if the casino didn’t cheat in the first place. As he has shamelessly activate the block, not only the casino but the company’s reputation will go down. He doesn’t want that to happen. They don’t have to play fair but they must look fair. It’s all about face and reputation. All he has to do is win and let Kaiji destroy himself. Easy, right? Otherwise, fail and he dies. Ichijou knows the trays are impregnable. Just to make sure, he ascertains with his staff that it was untouched during the replacement and they tested it out themselves to be 100% in working condition. He ups the difficulty level too just in case.

Flashback reveals Kaiji explaining to Sakazaki why the ball can never enter the third tray. Because the winning hole is located at the back, it is very hard for the naked eye to see. There is a slight bump which pushes it off the trajectory. Then why not enter from the other side? It is also not possible because the trays and the Bog are tilted! Kaiji noticed this when Ichijou picked up balls that rolled to his feet and not the stationary ones elsewhere around it. The balls will lose momentum by then. Ichijou starts panicking when no balls has gone into the third tray. Isn’t that good? When one does, he starts to freak out. His fears are confirmed when he notices a customer dropping his pachinko balls on the floor. He notices the balls rolling in the opposite direction! Did Kaiji sneak into the office and changed the remote for the tilting? He doesn’t know how but he knows Kaiji didn’t do anything to the remote but the building! How the f*ck did he tilt the building?! Back to that flashback of Kaiji explaining it all. When he learns about the construction building near the casino to re-tilt back, this means the earth around the area is soft. But if they are going to tilt the building with 20 tonnes of sandbags, wouldn’t they get caught? They’re going to use water. Pretending to be delivery guys, they deliver plastic containers to the empty rooms above. Then they fill it up enough in 8 hours to avoid being discovered (something about the daily level check on the roulette wheel).

Ichijou tilts maximum the trays the other way. Although this would prevent Kaiji from passing the first and second tray, it will be very dangerous if the balls ever make it to the third one. Thus he orders to find his staff to find that device they used years ago. That device activated something very obvious and because so, they put it away never to use it again. But desperate times calls for desperate measures. Ichijou can’t lose now. Flashback reveals he started working in this company 7 years ago and put up with all the crap that Hyoudou made him do. He did so because he knows that old guy is going to die and Kurosaki will take over. Ichijou is favoured under him. Once that happens, he will take over all his money. Ichijou also wants to get back at his old high school friends who mocked his loser casino job. Hyoudou once asks what defines being rich. It wasn’t money. Because if the politicians drop a nuclear bomb over his head, money is worthless. It must be something he can continue to live in luxuriously and be protected. That would be a shelter. That is why he is currently building an underground shelter filled with first class facilities and only those loyal to the company and handpicked by him will get to stay. Ichijou is also aiming for this to prove his old friends wrong.

It is a roller coaster ride for Ichijou and Kaiji. Will the balls go in or not? Kaiji has finished his 10 million and now is on to his last 10 million. The crowd notices something is wrong when the balls can’t even enter the third tray. The balls whittle down quickly. Ichijou is smiling luck is on his side while Kaiji is also praying he doesn’t need luck or miracle. He just need that one thing to go his way. Isn’t that luck or miracle? By the time Kaiji discovers a sure way win, he is out of balls. No money left. Ichijou relishes but Kaiji says he isn’t done yet. Taking a toilet break, he talks to Endou in the toilet and knows he has extra 10 million left. He knows the way he thinks because this money is to bail himself out if he fails. Endou will not trust Kaiji anymore seeing he has wasted his money. But after Kaiji tells him about the sh*t life he will live if he runs away now, Endou starts thinking (and crying). At least if they sink together, Kaiji will buy him 3 beers every month till he dies. After signing a new contract and with the extra funds, Kaiji returns to play, much to Ichijou’s dismay. Ichijou tries to stall his time, counting the money to see if it is valid. When one of his staffs noticed something, Ichijou is confident he can survive this and doesn’t need to resort to the device. He lets Kaiji play.

At first it might seem that nothing has changed. Ichijou believes the double tilting is now working in his favour. He is going to tell Kaiji why he is failing but Kaiji will show him a magic trick. He uses his money to cover the view of the trays. Nobody can see anything. After Ichijou rips it off, everyone is shocked to see multiple balls in both first and second trays! They are also moving in unusual motion. Everyone sees the loser holes clogged up! Ichijou realizes the fault of the double tilt. Because of the tilt, the discharge tube is now facing upwards and thus clogging the pipes. This means that multiple balls are now making way to the third tray. Ichijou desperately tries to tilt back but this will take a few minutes. But when all the balls keep missing the final winning hole, Kaiji realizes he has made a fatal mistake in his calculation. He thought tilting it back will roll the balls straight in but he realizes too late this machine is twisted.

Remember when Kaiji tilted the building with those water containers? Well, he realizes he didn’t put it evenly. Because the empty room with water is only at a certain corner of the building, the building didn’t tilt entirely in one direction but towards a corner. This is why the balls keep missing as the pathway is now bended. At this point the clogged balls are already starting to be unclogged. Although Kaiji has around 400 balls left, this final ball in the final tray is the final game. Then it misses. Game over. Endou already jumps the gun blaming Kaiji when another miracle happens. It seems the trays are still clogged! The balls inside the tube must still be stuck despite a few have already come out. Ichijou cannot take this anymore and is about to hit the machine but Endou tackles him and tells him to stay put. But it still won’t mean a thing if the ball doesn’t enter the correct final hole. Then another miracle happens. All the loser holes in the third tray also clog up. When the trays were clogged up, the third tray must have also built up in the clogging before the tilt back. With all the loser holes closed off, the only way is to wait for the ball(s) to fall into the winning hole. Just when it seems that 2 balls are heading straight for the winner, God (or the devil) f*cked over Kaiji again and repels them against each other!

Remember that device Ichijou was looking for? His staff has found and activated it. It seems around the winning hole there are small holes that shoots out air. Thus an invisible air barrier! No balls can go in now! Kaiji takes a closer look and realizes this cheat. There is nothing he can do. He gets his fighting spirit back with the crowd cheering his name and this little sign of hope happened. When a new ball entering the third tray clashes with another ball, it ‘jumps’. But it wasn’t high enough and got repelled by the air barrier. But that was the only time it jumped. It never happened again. When the crowd goes silent, Kaiji looks back and realizes the MIBs are already here, ready to take him back underground. Kaiji is in a pinch. He pleads to Ichijou to make a deal. Let’s call this a draw and he wants to cash out his approximately remaining 30 balls. This will be about 120 million enough to bail himself out and cover Endou’s debt. Ichijou won’t allow it and slaps it. Play and finish your balls! Then you’re going back to hell forever. Wow. I’ve never seen Kaiji so pathetic and desperate. And then he runs out of balls. And figuratively he also got no more balls left at the end.

Kaiji thought his few hundred yen could let him play some more but Ichijou won’t allow such small change. Kaiji is dragged away while pleading for someone to invest in him. Someone please give him money! Ichijou beats him up when Sakazaki returns throwing him 10 million! He returned to his workplace to steal his boss’ money since he is out of town. Sakazaki tells Kaiji to continue to fight and win. This is not just for themselves but all the players who were ‘killed’ by the Bog. Kaiji resumes play and this time Ichijou is the one begging to accept his draw. Too late mister. With the balls now jam packed in the third tray, it won’t be long before it will push through the air barrier. Ironically everyone hears the Bog’s ‘scream of death’. Then it happened. A few balls enter the final hole. Jackpot. The Bog lights up and overflows with balls. Everybody cries. For better or worse reasons. Of course the one most upset is Hyoudou. He can’t believe this happened and will send Ichijou to the underground. At the rate he lost, he’ll be there for over 1,000 years!

Ichijou is taken away and he knows his fate is sealed. Even at this point Kaiji is pitying him. He wants Ichijou to come back next time to challenge him again. Well, if he is still around in a thousand years. With almost 730 million, Kaiji gives some to the spectators who supported him and most important of all cleared his own debts. The remaining is split based on the agreement between Kaiji, Endou and Sakazaki. Endou treats them to a private party. Everything is okay when you have the money. Sakazaki claims he has the smallest share but Kaiji reveals his is. He has to pay off debts to rescue his friends underground. The remaining profit will be split evenly among them. Sakazaki is impressed with his principles and wants to give him his daughter! Say no quick!!! Although Endou praises Kaiji for being a rare man with principals, he is still naïve and this will eat him one day. Soon, Kaiji and Sakazaki pass out. Endou drugged their drink. When they wake up hours later, he is gone. Fearing he might have taken their money and run, it seems Sakazaki’s share is still intact. Only Kaiji’s share has been significantly reduced. A note from Endou claims that the contract for the extra 10 million he signed in the toilet has a 30% compound interest per 10 minutes! So by taking his right of the share, Kaiji with around 190 million is now reduced to 60 million. Kaiji is screwed in the end. Sakazaki fears he might beg for some money and quickly leaves, claiming he needs to put back his boss’ money.

All Kaiji can do is cry till he sleeps. He wakes up when the agents knock on his door. They are here to take off his timer. Kaiji is adamant he wants to save his underground friends because of the promise. Although he can easily renege on the promise and keep the remaining money to himself, he won’t. This means he will be left with only 600,000 Yen for himself. The next day, Kaiji hides as he sees his 45s friends get released. However he is waiting for one more person: Hiromitsu. Although unrelated, he promised his father to help him. However his release will be using the share of profit of them all so Kaiji doesn’t have a say in this. If one of them opposes, this deal is dropped. So when Kaiji sees Hiromitsu coming out too, he is very grateful to his friends. The agents wonder why Kaiji didn’t go out to meet them. He has no money. Wait. What? Why? He should have some left. He claims he lost it all in a pachinko! Since he will be meeting them up and go out for drinks, he can’t possible ask them to spend. So he thought of earning a little. Too bad luck wasn’t on his side. The agent got so mad at his twisted thinking that he gives him his own 30,000 for him. Free of charge. No interest. Just go meet up. I guess there are still kind people around. Kaiji meets up with his friends and they all cry manly tears. Time to party for their freedom.

Life’s A Gamble
At least for now it is a happy ending for Kaiji and his fellow friends. But of course as gamblers, we ordinary people would wonder how long that would last till the next temptation brings them down again. The ending may seemed a bit rushed but I suppose after that long exhausting drama, I think it is best that we don’t drag out an additional episode just to close and tie up things. After all, Kaiji has got his long outstanding debts cleared and kept his promise of saving his friends. What else could he asked for? Sure, he is left with no money but seeing the hell that he has gone through, it is better than to lose scraps of paper than compromising his principles.

I have to admit that despite the long drawn out drama of each of the gambling art, overall they feel interesting despite I still have mixed feelings at the end. As a person who does not know the finer rules of such gambling games, it is all an eye opener. That’s why I noticed I can’t help myself after watching each episode, I crave for more. It was really interesting and curious to see what kind of tricks Kaiji will pull out from his sleeve. On the other hand, like I have said, the very long drawn out drama especially the pachinko game really made it feel the whole arc was a tiring one. It just feels like One Piece or the Dragonball series whereby they can actually drag out a single subject for the entire episode. Let’s face it, the pachinko arc was more of a psychological game of high stakes that goes back and forth between Kaiji and Ichijou’s favour. Therefore while it is interesting to see how the tide of events can quickly turn from one’s favour to another, it is because they draw it out so long and thus why this arc eats up a big chunk of the second season. If they cut out all that drama, they could have ended it in half those episodes and perhaps feature more gambling games that Kaiji would participate in. Maybe it is another psychological drama for us viewers. After being tired out with all that psychological drama, once the end came, it was a big relief for us. The end of a long tiring journey. Hey, we can’t complain by that time, right?

It would be interesting to see Kaiji take on more types of gambling games like horse racing, roulette, slot machines and even poker. But since there has been no word of another season, I guess his game ends here. At least for where the anime is concerned. Because it would be a shame for Kaiji not to get his rematch with Hyoudou and bring down that old fart before fate naturally takes him away. Yeah well, he is like the last boss whom Kaiji should face in the end anyway.

This series is all about Kaiji so it is no doubt when you have a series named after him, a big chunk of the character focus will be on him. Although Kaiji is like your typical gambler, what makes him stand out from the rest in terms of his gambling fighting spirit is his keen observation. This guy has a knack of observing the smallest and oddest details that would allow him to sometimes form a quick strategy to overcome the wall. This is the same instincts that has kept him alive till this day. He would have been dead meat a long time ago if not for this quick thinking of his. It is a survival instinct that has greatly helped Kaiji get out of sticky and deadly situations. Albeit not always perfect but it has helped Kaiji defy death. And yes, because he is the main character. Because of Kaiji’s perseverance, you can’t help feel like rooting for him all the way like how many of the characters pin their only hopes for him. Yes, you don’t pray to God but to Kaiji!

But like any other fragile human, Kaiji also has his weaknesses. The obvious one is being a gambler that led him into this mess. It is hard for me to say if he will get out of his gambling addict because that is what all gamblers say. Before you know it, they’ll be back at square one. I know Kaiji is different because he has grown stronger in both seasons but remember, deep down he is still a gambler. Because at times you noticed that Kaiji also shows his weakness especially during the Bog where he begs for mercy from Ichijou when he has exhausted all his avenues and his naivety to save his friends and put his full trust in a shady person like Endou only to get the short end of the stick. In the end, he only has got himself to blame. But hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. After all, he survived getting his ear and fingers cut from Hyoudou’s game, right?! His naivety to save others is also a double edged sword that has him screwed over many times. But I suppose it is better for him this way than to lose his humanity.

The other characters aren’t as prominent as Kaiji and most of them just play a certain role for a certain arc. For example for those guys on Espoir like Furuhata, Andou, Kitami, Okabayashi and Funai, I thought they would come back later in future arcs but as far as the anime is concerned, I guess they didn’t. Once it’s over for them, it’s over. They don’t usually ‘cross over’ to another arc. Well, maybe Ishida was the exception but otherwise like those 45s who were more prominent in the chinchiro arc, they were reduced to just mere praying spectators for the pachinko game. If they didn’t appear, the arc would still carry on smoothly but they have to remind us from time to time why Kaiji is fighting so hard and to add to the nail biting drama. Everybody’s favourite and most used line is calling out Kaiji’s name. Yeah, this guy is definitely God to them.

Hyoudou might look like a senile old man but he is very influential and wields very great power. All because he has money. See the power of money? Nobody can go up against him. It looks like it will take some time before Kaiji ‘powers up’ before taking on him again. After all when you have so much many and so influential, you become twisted and warped in your own ways. Absolute power gives him absolute control of how he wants things done and by merely opening his mouth, he dictates whether you live or die. So don’t you dare upset him in the slightest way. I believe if there Kaiji is to bring down Hyoudou and his corporation, he has also got to take down some of his executives like Kurosaki whose appearance feels wasted here. It’s like an introduction that there are other subordinates rank and file beneath Hyoudou. But I’m not sure if Kaiji would want to take on them all too as he would rather aim to bring down the big fish himself. Why go through all that convoluted mini boss level when you can just take everything down by defeating the big boss. This isn’t some RPG game, you know.

I want to mention something about Endou. Something that bothered me during the tense Bog arc. Like any other typical person, he blames Kaiji if things don’t go his way but becomes happy and elated when it does. This is the thing that bugged me. Because I tend to notice how whenever he is happy, he keeps hugging Kaiji! Man, if that doesn’t look like happy gay, I don’t know what is. He does this hugging so frequently it made me wonder if this guy has got this habit of hugging others when it greatly goes his way. Certainly it feels odd from a shady man like him. And based on this, everybody else I can safely sum up that when it comes to someone winning, they cheer and support for you like as though they placed their future on you. But when the going is downhill, all that support suddenly gets deserted like as though they have nothing to do with you in the first place. Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone. Sure, we see the spectators cheering for Kaiji is because they already lost something. Thus they see him as their saviour and put their avenging fate on him. And for those spectators at the Bog, they’re cheering for him because he will pay them if he wins! No wonder they’re sticking around until the game ends. Otherwise, where is the motivation for them when the going gets tough? You think they are here to watch a good game?

Last but not least I also want to mention about the narrator who over the course of the series has somewhat become a little annoying. At first it was unique to hear some guy narrating what has happened and explaining the rules, terms, etc. But as the drama drags out, it becomes obvious that he starts narrating and telling us the obvious like as though he is a TV commentator of some sport because of his passionate speech delivery. Yeah, yeah. We get it that Kaiji is in a pinch and you don’t have to tell us that or what will become of him. Of course this is to enhance the dramatic effect of the episode and everything but it gets irritating after a while. He should just stick to explaining the rules, that’s all.

Another trademark of this series is the “Zawa, zawa” sound effect that you will hear throughout in every episode whenever Kaiji’s guts tell him that something bad is about to happen. Call it his guts instinct. Look at it as the Kaiji’s version of Spiderman’s tingling spider sense. In the first season, this didn’t sound very clear as I thought it was the leaves rustling but eventually they are actually a group of men whispering this line. Sometimes it feels creepy. Then in the second season, they put in a variety with female voices and this one sounds less creepy.

In the second season at the end of each episode, there is a segment called Kaiji Proverbs Returns. I suppose they are supposed to be inspiring lines said by Kaiji and other characters for the episode. True, they sound inspiring but I don’t think I will be applying them in my life. Because I don’t gamble. Sure, you can use them to as a battle cry for other stuffs but by the time I watched the next episode, I have already forgotten about it. Furthermore, to distract us and make us stay to listen to the proverbs, they have this pretty lady narrating it all. Each episode has her wearing different dress and at different scenes. I can’t help keep my hopes up that she would give us some sort of fanservice… Why do I keep thinking she is some kind of porn star… Oh sh*t. I just revealed one of my weakness for the flesh! Hey, at least it isn’t gambling :-/. Sometimes this segment is also used as a blatant advertisement to advertise the Kaiji movie or DVD releases. Why waste your money on gambling when you can have the full set of Kaiji DVDs!

One thing that obviously stands out is the design of the characters. Well, not its entirety. It is their nose that somewhat makes this series looks weird at first. If you think Kaiji’s pointed nose looks freaking odd, wait till you see the nose of some other characters. For instance, when I first saw Hyoudou, I was thinking what the f*ck does this guy have a peanut for a nose?! I KID YOU NOT! Really!!! I thought this guy really had a peanut for a nose! Then for Miyoshi, I thought he had a dick for a nose! OMG! Or at least a cartoonish hand as one. Closer to home, I thought his nose resembles closely to a local cartoonist, Lat’s nose trademark. Ootsuki? I thought he had a clown nose! And all those other characters who have broad flat nose like Furuhata, Andou, Ishida, Tonegawa, Sakazaki and Kurosaki, I thought they had noses like elephant seals. I’m not kidding. Therefore One Piece’s Usopp should really feel at home in this anime. Just saying…

This is such a manly show that it is really hard to find any females here. There are no female leads or even supporting characters. Mostly they are background characters and even that is mostly in the city. Because men are the ones taking part in dangerous gambling games. Men are the ones who are only working underground. Don’t see any women working to their bones there, do you? Although I remember one (Sahara’s female colleague at the convenience store) that looks decently pretty enough, with all the men around and lack of female characters, you would start to think that even the women might look this manly. This is somewhat reinforced after you see Sakazaki’s daughter! OMFG! So f*cking hideous!!! It makes the ugliest guy, say Hyoudou to look even better! I mean, really. This girl looks so ugly. Sorry if I offended you pussies but really, it’s like trying to tell us to go back to gambling instead of thinking of perverted thoughts. Sometimes it feels like a troll that for the sponsor credits scene, they show her nice body in a bikini and then they zoom up to her face… Damn… Yeah… That kind of face… Zawa, zawa… Masturbation challenge level… Extreme!!! Well, at least the live action movies had good looking characters. Don’t want to go scaring away your audiences, do you? It’s a good thing too that the Kaiji proverbs girl is such a cutie. All hail 3D women? Yeah, it’s ironic for me to say that this is one of the few instances where the 3D female is better than the 2D one. Thanks Mikako for ruining it. The only other hideous thing are Kaiji’s damaged fingernails. Yikes! I’ll have nightmares remembering this. This is worse than Kaiji having his ear cut off!

Other than that, the cell shaded drawing gives the series a little unique edge but otherwise, I thought some of the characters look pretty similar because at first I was confused if Sahara and Furuhata were the same person and just dyed his hair blond. This means some of the unimportant background characters look almost alike but you won’t pretty much notice this if you’re focusing on the game. I thought Kitami looked a lot like Kaiji and once thought he was his long lost brother or something. Not forgetting the exaggerated effects when the character is freaking out with their gaping mouths and manly tears. Man, there are going to be lots of those tears flowing. It proves even men do cry. This series is produced by a veteran studio, Madhouse that made lots of good anime series with varying art styles like Death Note, One Punch Man, No Game No Life, High School Of The Dead, Ore Monogatari, Black Lagoon, Monster, Paprika, Tenjou Tenge, Paradise Kiss, Sakura Wars and the Galaxy Angel series.

Many of the themes are rock based. It is only right and suitable for the kind of hellish games that Kaiji will play. If you think the first season’s opening theme, Mirai Wa Bokura No Te No Naka by Kaiji with Redbourn Cherries isn’t hard core enough, you should hear the second season’s opening theme, Chase The Light by Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Because its opener is already a wild mad scream!!! If you’re into this really punk rock style, I’m sure you can stomach some of the lyrics that has the singer literally screaming his lines! If you think the second season’s ending theme, C Kara Hajimaru ABC by Wasureranneyo sounds funny despite its rock theme, that isn’t the bad part. It is the ending credits animation that will freak you out. Because we see reluctant Kaiji on a date with Sakazaki’s ugly daughter! OMFG!!! No wonder Kaiji runs away in the end!!! This is definitely a gamble he cannot win!!! Run Kaiji, RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Better to work underground for a million years than date 10 minutes of this piece of ugly crap. The only song that is not rock based but a slow grim country western-like is the first season’s ending theme, Makeinutachi No Requiem by Hakuryuu. A sad and befitting fate for all gamblers if I should say.

Overall, despite the over-dramatizing and the dragging out of the games, this series is overall and interesting watch as it lets you peek into the mind of a gambler and the strategies that one can come up with if you are desperate enough and your back against the wall. As long as there is money involved, you can bet that humans will try all sorts of ways to beat the system or make it unbeatable. The basic human greed has not changed since. You live by the dice, you die by the dice. It is a good thing this anime didn’t make me curious to go gamble. Then I would only have myself to blame for being weak minded. But I’m not making any bets that this series might get a third season any time soon even though I really hope there should be another. My guts are telling me that. Zawa, zawa…

Danganronpa 3 – Hope Arc

February 10, 2017

To bridge the twin simultaneous series of the Despair Arc and Future Arc, thus we have this special broadcast, Danganronpa 3 – Hope Arc to bring closure and end everything once and for all. Will the world finally be flooded with mindless hope because hope is still hope no matter how you put it. Unless that is like despair in disguise. Oh damn. I’m confused now…

Hope Floats
Hinata is seen by Yukizome’s body. He regrets the terrible things he has done with his power but because of it, he managed to bring everyone else back. Naegi is being cornered and pushed back by the elite force. But the luck of Komaeda has taken them out. It seems the Remnants are back and are now on the good side thanks to Hinata healing them back to normal. They are the ones who also helped dig out Togami’s side from the rubble. We see them display and use their talents fending off the elite force. Then they face Mitarai who is still bent on resetting everything even if it means everyone losing their emotions, etc. He claims he is not strong like them and blames himself that a lot of people died. Hinata doesn’t blame him for thinking that way but doing so means erasing history. Because it is as though they are acting Nanami never existed. Their role as survivors is to atone their sins and carry on living. Mitarai is unsure of what to do since he is always alone. Well, look no further. These guys will always be with him from now on. After a lot of contemplating, crying and breaking down, Mitarai finally finds the courage to stop the broadcast. Now you can let those tears run freely and have a big group hug. That’s a good boy. And everything is resolved without Naegi having to lift a single finger or say a single word.

Naegi returns to base where Togami shows a footage released from Future Foundation. Hinata and the Remnants are claiming responsibility on this since hope is boring and thus bringing to you this despair. Before you jump to conclusions that they are sheep in wolves’ clothing, take note that this is just an act to ‘deceive’ the world and make them think they are behind this so as not to tarnish the good name of Future Foundation. It’s like playing the villain. Nanami is heard talking to Hinata and narrating to us when Hinata entered the New World Programme. An AI was supposed to be created to monitor him which was supposed to be her. However there was no need for all that since there was someone all of them wanted to see again. Since Nanami is able to see all of them, she thinks miracle has won. The ex-Remnants leave the place via ship. Munakata warns Naegi that he is going to be a hero as the world needs one who fought despair. Can he shoulder it? If the ex-Remnants had the burden of carrying despair, then Naegi has the burden of carrying hope. Munakata also has his own burdens to carry then. Tsumiki shows an antidote that Seiko tried creating during the mutual killing game. It’s a medicine that would slow the spread of the wristband’s poison. So guessed who lived? That lucky person who was able to received Tsumiki’s treatment with this antidote is no other than Kirigiri. And this completes our full cycle of hope and not let it end in despair, right? A few months later, we see Naegi’s side rebuilding Hope Academy. Naegi is the headmaster and Kirigiri a teacher.

Hope To See You Again
Erm… Somehow I feel that there are a few parts missing here and there. Because you know, it just doesn’t explain how Hinata return back to his normal state from his super Kamukura form. Maybe there wasn’t much to it. Ushering back the ex-Remnants feel a bit rushed because they need to spend some time giving some drama to Mitarai and end it. So it ends like that? No wonder hope is so boring. And there’s this Nanami’s explanation that I didn’t get at all on how the virtual reality programme works but what the heck, as long as a good happy ending is in sight then everything else doesn’t matter. I was wondering the fate of some of the characters like Monaka because I suppose she is going to be stuck in space forever. What will be of Munakata? How will he pay his respects to Yukizome and Sakakura assuming he isn’t part of the new Hope Peak or whatever academy Naegi wants to call this new future school of his. And where are the ex-Remnants going now? They leave by ship but to where? Are they going to live on an island all by themselves seeing that they have become the bad guys in the eyes of the world? Most likely. Because you can’t blame anybody for trying to kill them seeing them walking in the streets after the despair they have caused.

And the most ‘outrageous’ of all is Kirigiri coming back to life. It feels unfair that only she is the dead one who has to return to life. She is the last person who died from the poison in the wristband but I am not sure how long it was since her death and the end of this entire drama. How long can a human body stay dead and then revive again without having any major damage to the body organs? Kirigiri looks fine to me. As though she woke up from a great sleep. And I believe it hasn’t even been a day since the mutual killings started so if Kirigiri can be resurrected, why not the rest who died from their forbidden actions? Unless you tell me Seiko only made a vial worth for one person. Too bad. But even if you think of it, if Kirigiri was administered the antidote right on time, the poison would have spread quickly throughout her body during that time interval and thus the antidote would be useless in slowing it down. I mean, if this was the case, the rest wouldn’t have died a fast death, right? So it makes no sense. Yeah, this story was written on hope, not logic.

Overall, I feel that this special episode felt a bit lukewarm in trying to end everything on a feel good note. Some bits I felt were not there but maybe they’ll show another special episode to bridge it. You know, like the big battle between Naegi and Enoshima that resulted in the latter’s death. I can only blame myself for expecting a lot after the tense and suspenseful arcs but then again, we’re all weak in our own ways. So from what I learn from what these guys said, we are supposed to accept our weakness and failures because it gives us hope? Well okay. I’m a loser otaku and have always been one for the longest time. Gee, that doesn’t make me feel better and instead just feeling more despair instead. Oh, right. I remember I’m not even a super high school level in anything. Despair seems to be so much more tempting…

If you love the original animated Danganronpa series, then we have good news for you. Make that double good news. Because not only Danganronpa 3 – Future Arc was released as a sequel, it was also aired alongside with another arc (Despair Arc) in the same season and both series run concurrently side by side with each other. Double the fun, double the despair. For this one, as its name suggests it takes place in the future after Naegi and the survivors leave Hope Peak but in the aftermath of fighting the biggest despair incident to have been brought down on mankind. However history seems to repeat itself again as this group of people find themselves in another deadly game of killing for survival. Can Naegi’s hope save the day, world and mankind once again? Can hope be unlimited like despair? Hope has never been much more powerful than prayers… If you find my opening paragraph somewhat similar to my previous blog on this series, well, you’re not seeing double. After all, I watched them simultaneously or rather together.

Episode 1
As narrated, the biggest and most atrocious despair inducing incident happened in human history. These Super High School Level Despairs fought wars that destroyed the world and humanity’s last hope was Future Foundation. They fought a bloody battle and it reached a turning point when Enoshima was killed. Humanity was victorious. However Remnants of Despair continued their activities and the war continued. At a Future Foundation branch, Kazuo Tengan is the chairman and former director of Hope Peak High School. He chairs a meeting with other executives to discuss about Naegi’s betrayal. However the rest end up arguing about the safety of this place since it isn’t on any map and how the Remnants have been increasing their attacks lately. Till Kyousuke Munakata the vice chairman tells them off and to get back on track. It seems Naegi has hid Remnants. Not just ordinary Remnants but million dollar class that served under Enoshima. Some believe Naegi put on a show to kill Enoshima to let their guard down and he was an ally of Despair all along. So when Naegi is ushered in, Juzo Sakakura immediately cuffs him and beats him up. Since he is in no position to be interrogated (thanks for those injuries, Sakakura), the meeting is suspended for the moment as Chisa Yukizome treats him. She also talks to him why he shielded those Remnants. Naegi isn’t sure but he thought at one point they had hope before falling into despair. She cautious that you can’t defeat the Remnants by being nice and that’s why they need Munakata’s decisiveness. After Kirigiri bumps into Ryouta Mitarai who is supposed to meet Tengan for the meeting, something rocks the building. They believe Remnants are attacking the place as all entries and exits are sealed off. Furthermore, all security guards are found dead in the bathroom. Once everyone gathers in the meeting room, a smoke bomb is dropped in and everyone immediately passes out. When they wake up, each of them has a wristband with a timer. A familiar laughter is heard. It is Monokuma on the monitor. Is he still alive? He ‘thanks’ everyone for Remnants’ losing streak and thus this is his way of ‘thanking’ them. They are going to play a game to kill each other. Of course nobody is going to play this game as they are all allies. It is then Munakata realizes Yukizome is missing. Then they realize her dead body stuck up in the chandelier! Monokuma adds that his killing game will determine the fate of humanity as well as the conclusion to the story of Naegi and Monokuma.

Episode 2
Monokuma explains the rules. Once the timer runs out, a sleep inducing drug will put them to sleep. However one will wake up and pick somebody to kill. So if everyone manages to find and kill the killer, the next time they sleep and wake up and nobody dies, they win the game. Also, everyone has an action they cannot perform on their wristband or else a lethal poison will be released. They also cannot take off or destroy it or else the same will be done. Good luck and Godspeed. Miaya Gekkogahara tries to hack into Monokuma but got her avatar in which she speaks through hacked instead. It seems the system is perfectly guarded from outside but somebody hacked it from inside. This further proves one among them is the traitor. Sakakura believes Naegi is the one and tries to force him to admit. Asahina defends him and he too gets violent but since Mitarai advises him not be violent on girls, he got beaten up instead. That is when Daisaku Bandai suddenly dies. His weakness is that he cannot witness violence. Of course the best course is to check everyone’s weakness but many are against of letting it be known for fear of being used against them. Munakata then has everyone pinpoint the killer. Majority votes for Naegi. Munakata tells Naegi that if he hates despair, kill himself. Since he won’t, Sakakura and Munakata are going to kill him but Great Gozu won’t let this injustice happen as he fends them off. Kirigiri releases a smoke bomb to let Asahina and Naegi escape. Asahina has to carry him and run since his weakness is that he cannot run. Gozu and Gekkogahara side with Naegi and Asahina as they fight off persistent Munakata and then lose him. It is nearly nap time as everyone scatters throughout the building. Naegi and Asahina are hiding and she is scared this killing is going to happen all over again like last time. Naegi gives her hope to trust his super luckiness. They overcame this before and know each other better this time. Nap time comes and goes. When Naegi wakes up, he finds his fist bloodied and Asahina dead.

Episode 3
Well guess what? Asahina’s blood is tomato sauce and the knife in her stomach is just a toy. Phew, right? So who got killed then? GOZU!!!!!! The plan now is to talk to everyone and Naegi can do so if he goes to the broadcast room in which Gekkogahara has regained some control over the hacking. Naegi notices Gekkogahara’s odd way of travelling in her wheelchair. He realizes her weakness is that she cannot turn right. Gekkogahara fears for her life but Naegi assures he will not disclose her secret and shows his. Asahina also shows them hers: She cannot get punched or kicked. Thinking somebody is nearby, Asahina and Gekkogahara become decoys so Naegi can carry on. He informs everyone of Gozu’s death and explains why he helped Remnants. Before they were driven to despair, they were ordinary students till they met Enoshima. Thus Naegi helped them by using a virtual rehabilitation programme, New World to restore their memories before Enoshima implanted despair in them. He talks about the need to trust each other. He is going to abandon this game. By telling everyone his weakness? Well, logically if he was the killer he wouldn’t do that, right? Of course Munakata despite calling it a fine speech finds it hollow because Naegi speaks of hope but doesn’t know true despair. We take a short detour to see Seiko Kimura having some bone to pick with the couple Ruruka Andou and Sounosuke Izayoi. Both sides accuse each other of being traitors as Seiko chases the couple down. Beast mode? As expected Munakata finds Naegi to kill him despite the latter pleading he doesn’t want to fight. As allies they should talk. Munakata chides him he doesn’t know what true despair is and he won the last time because it was a game based on Enoshima’s rules. Therefore Naegi is much more dangerous as behind his words are not hope but despair. Munakata believes in power. That is why he will make many victims as it takes to destroy despair even if it means his own death. If Naegi’s words have power, stop his sword then. Alas his shallow hope cannot stop his sword.

Episode 4
Sakakura attacks Kirigiri’s group since he believes all those associated with Naegi are traitors. However he is taken out by Tengan. Not bad for an old man. Asahina and Gekkogahara reunite with Kirigiri’s group. Mitarai feels useless and guilty as he partially injured Kirigiri during the fight. They tell him he need not be like Naegi. Just be himself. Munakata then announces he has captured Naegi and will execute him. Kirigiri knows this is a trap to lure the killer because he would have killed Naegi already. True enough, this is Munakata’s plan as he explains the rest to Naegi. He is very sure Naegi is not the killer. The worst outcome for this game is not everyone being wiped out by the killer. Because the killer would have killed everyone in one go if that was the case. Imagine if Munakata dies and nobody else is killed. Normally one would think Munakata is the killer. However there is no way of ascertaining that. This would mean the killer would easily infiltrate Future Foundation, pose as a top executive and spread despair in the name of hope. They will be controlling Future Foundation from the shadows while using Naegi as a tool to achieve their means. Tengan attacks Munakata and fights him so Asahina could rescue Naegi and take him to a safe place. Meanwhile Kirigiri and Mitarai are re-examining Yukizome’s corpse. The chase between Seiko and the couple is still ongoing. Both blame each other for their expulsion from Hope Peak. Munakata and Tengan’s fight ends in a bloody draw. Well, not actually. When they fall off the level, Tengan was pierced by a metal rod. Seeing Tengan’s resolve has made Munakata to admit he was wrong and changed his mind. He wants to know what he is thinking. Sakakura is hot on the heels of Naegi. Seeing neither Naegi nor Asahina can fight properly, Gekkogahara faces off with him. However he kicks her off her wheelchair. It seems Gekkogahara is just a robot and the real person is controlling her from somewhere.

Episode 5
Flashback reveals Seiko, Ruruka and Izayoi were friends when they were young. Ruruka was impressed by her medicine talent. However Seiko cannot eat any sweets or sugar as she has some medical condition that would kill her. This insulted Ruruka in a way since the only thing good she can do is make sweets. Over the years we see Seiko becoming Ruruka’s errand girl all in the name of friendship. Meanwhile Munakata once believed Tengan used to be stronger till he became a coward. He replies about Munakata’s naivety in thinking if he wipes out all Remnants, he can rid the world of despair. War alone cannot extinguish despair. That is why Kamakura Project was initiated. Munakata thinks Tengan is part of Remnants since this means he was the attacker. Ruruka has figured out Seiko’s weakness as she has Izayoi get some weapon (in which he discovers some secret entrance). From the way Seiko acts, she knows her weakness is for someone to step on her shadow. Ruruka can help Seiko if she eats her sweet. Of course Seiko refuses citing her condition. But Ruruka still refuses to believe that. In that case, kill Munakata. She thinks if he dies, this whole mess will end. Of course Seiko can’t do that too. When she was expelled from Hope Peak, he helped her. Seiko devours more pills to become a super ferocious beast as she takes out all the lights and then hunt down Ruruka. But their chase ended up getting caught in Sakakura’s fight with Asahina and Naegi. It gets messier when Gekkogahara returns to fire her missile. Kirigiri continues her corpse investigation to find the killer’s pattern. Tengan refutes he is a Remnant. Munakata takes his answer as that he knows the killer’s identity. For suspense, we don’t get to hear what the old man says and we see Munakata’s shock reaction. Tengan reveals his weakness: Answer questions with a lie. But Munakata won’t waver and cuts him down. Not before Tengan quickly blinds his right eye with the metal rod. As nap time is around the corner, Seiko laments how things with Ruruka turned out this way. All she wanted was a friend and did her bidding because she trusted her only to realize she was being used. Unfortunately she’ll never get to know because she became the killer’s next victim.

Episode 6
Munakata remembers his past. Just after he, Yukizome and Sakakura graduate, he tells them his plans to expand Hope Peak to overseas since there are many bad rumours about Hope Peak as an organization. When he comes back, he wants Sakakura to take over security and Yukizome to forge ties and contacts as a teacher. Making the world a better place is not his dream. It is his plan. And now Munakata might feel his plan might be a little dashed so he stabbed his sword into Yukizome’s chest? Trying to make sure she is really dead? I knew it would be too good to be true when Naegi is shocked that Kirigiri became the next victim. It was just a dream. I hope it isn’t a foreboding of something. Kouichi Kizakura follows Kirigiri and Mitarai in examining the bodies. Then they stumble upon Izayoi’s body. Making it puzzling is that Seiko’s body is also found. Is the killer breaking the rules? Ruruka is saddened her boyfriend is gone. She pleads them to take her into their group as she is a useless person. Okay. But Kirigiri will have her help them out with their investigation. Gekkogahara connects to the security cameras to find the next victim. Naegi breaks down when he sees Tengan’s body. This hopeful guy just fell into despair. He thought all he did was for nothing. Ironically Gekkogahara gives him hope that everything will be fine in the end. There is also an ‘encouraging’ note left behind by Tengan supposedly for Naegi entrusting the future to him.

When Asahina notes how she hates the game and the rules they have to stick with, it then hit Naegi they don’t have to play this game. But how can they get out if all exits are sealed? Have someone from the outside make one! Gekkogahara sets up her system trying to connect outside. It is Togami who picks up the line. Apparently he doesn’t know there is this killing game going on. There is no worldwide broadcast as claimed by Monokuma. After hearing Naegi’s story, he lets him know that a spy he sent reported that Future Foundation’s peacekeeping squad is headed towards Jabberwock Island. It means Munakata had intended to kill everyone on that island regardless of the meeting’s outcome. Since the squad only answers to Munakata, there might be a connection with what is happening at the branch and on the island. Togami has also sent his forces to the island and he will personally be on his way to Naegi. After the call ends, Togami’s subordinate wonders why he didn’t tell Naegi the truth. Because the real Gekkogahara is dead and the one with them is an imposter. Togami’s reason is that because she is close to Naegi, it might put him in danger if he were to expose her. The best thing now is to let her be and strike the one behind this. He believes the only Remnants who can do this is Monaka Towa who is hiding in Towa City. Fortunately for Togami, Fukawa and Naegi’s little sister, Komaru are there.

Episode 7
We see Monaka giving her eulogy at Enoshima’s funeral. She is blaming Naegi for this. Claiming there is still hope for despair (oh, the irony), Monaka will become Enoshima’s successor and drive Future Foundation and the world to despair. Komaru and Fukawa are pushing forward fighting an army of Monokuma troops. Komaru narrates she is neither hope nor despair but just an ordinary girl who got separated from her brother during that greatest incident. She has been waiting in this town like a video game and waiting for Naegi to end the war. The duo barge into Monaka’s tower and see Monaka on a monitor as she proclaims to bring despair to Naegi. As she sends her robots to surround them, suddenly and surprisingly she surrenders! She knows too well that somehow hope always wins. She’s done with this and detonates the place! At least half the building is still standing. Komaru and Fukawa then find the real Monaka bumming around in her filthy Monokuma trailer room. They are shocked that Monaka doesn’t want to play this despair thing anymore. It’s embarrassing. She reveals she is not the one behind the killing game at Future Foundation’s branch and although she did kill Gekkogahara, it was just to see Naegi up close and personal. She was the one that did the murder prank on Asahina. When Monaka heard Naegi talk about hope and despair a while ago, it made her realize she didn’t want to end up like him and is done with despair. Although she doesn’t know who the culprit is behind this game, what she does know is that because of Naegi, one of the survivors of Enoshima’s killing game will die. She will not say who. Monaka is bored with life on Earth and decides to head off and live in space. Blasting away into the sky! At first Fukawa wanted to follow her to squeeze more info out of her but Komaru wants them to go back. She cites Togami’s name as a good reason. You want Fukawa to do things? Always cite that guy’s name. While they think Monaka doing nothing is a form of despair, Komaru believes once she is bored staying in her room, she’ll come back. Komaru manages to hack into Gekkogahara’s system to inform Naegi about Monaka’s warning. Fukawa does the same to Togami.

Episode 8
Once the transmission ends, Gekkogahara acts like a robot. Naegi and Asahina try to leave but stumble into Munakata. If not for Gekkogahara combining with her wheelchair into some mech to fight him, the duo might not have a chance to escape. Kirigiri is still looking at every inch of the room for hints. Kizakura just dismantled all the traps set by Izayoi in the room. Because Ruruka is seemingly clumsy, Kizakura vaguely hints about her trying to form her own breakaway group in Future Foundation. Sakakura enters the room hell bent on killing Kirigiri. Kizakura fights him and manages to let him step on a trap and wound him. Kizakura’s sharp observation notes that this former boxer has been attacking using everything except his fists. Could it be his forbidden action restricts him from attacking with his bare hands? In exchange, Kizakura tells his own forbidden action: He cannot open his left hand. It must remain closed/clenched. When Kirigiri resumes he investigation, Ruruka lets off a bomb that would have sent her dropping down and to her death had not Kizakura used his hands to grab and pull her up. Oh. Did he just open his left hand? Damn. And another one bites the dust. Ruruka is going to kill all of them as she makes Sakakura eat her chocolates that will control his mind. However he fights and resists against it. Watching Ruruka’s actions, Kirigiri has deduced she was the one who killed Izayoi. He died of his own forbidden actions. It was made to look like he died via the killer’s knife. However all victims had an embedded stab in their hearts. There was none on Izayoi. It is believed Ruruka used the knife from Seiko for this deception. Kirigiri even went as far as to taste Izayoi’s saliva and tasted something sweet. Who else is a master of cooking and close enough to him? She reveals a secret door behind the shelves from the way the marks the furniture was dragged. It is believed to be an exit. Thus Ruruka’s forbidden action is for anyone who leaves the game. So when Izayoi found it, Ruruka must have panicked. Sakakura tries to open the door and leave as Ruruka desperately tries to stop him. Kirigiri and Mitarai didn’t join in helping to open the door but head out of the room. Togami has arrived outside the building. Hagakure must be happy to see him seeing we’ve seen him running around like a clown and his luck managed to still keep him alive from all the attacks. After setting the explosives, they blast away the rubble. A member carelessly activates a trap that sends the building sinking.

Episode 9
Sakakura opens the door but realizes he still can’t get out because they’re underwater! Kirigiri tells Mitarai that the secret exit was fake. This might be an identical space below and not the original room they were in above ground. When they were knocked out the first time, they were moved to the identical part below. Whoever did this must sure put in a hell lot of effort to move everyone. Kirigiri knows this because she observed some of the damage marks in earlier rooms were missing when the killing game started. She suspects Munakata as the main culprit because he was the one who designed this facility and she notices the game rules favour him the most. Kirigiri and Mitarai reunite with Naegi and Asahina. Naegi sounds like he is starting to lose faith so Kirigiri gives him the much needed motivation to continue being hope. After Munakata slashes Gekkogahara into half, he reunites with Sakakura. After a short talk about their ideals and past endeavours, Munakata then stabs him! Then he blames despair for killing him… WTF. Ruruka has witnessed Sakakura’s murder. Although scared, she thinks he deserved being betrayed. Flashback shows Izayoi after discovering the secret exit, went to seal it up and set lots of traps so no one can find it as he knew Ruruka’s forbidden action. He promised he would never betray her and assured he cares more about her than himself. Naturally Ruruka is still scared so how to you really ensure Izayoi won’t betray her? Betray him first! While they were passionately kissing, she slips a sweet into his mouth knowing his forbidden action is putting food in his mouth. Izayoi didn’t hate her and continued to love her till his last breath. It is sleeping time again. Naegi and co barricade themselves but Kirigiri thinks it won’t do them any good since the culprit has full control over the playing field. But whatever happens, she tells Naegi never to lose hope. Sleeping time is over. Ruruka has become the latest victim. So this means Naegi is alive. Yay! Mitarai is alive. Hooray! Asahina is alive. Yahoo! Kirigiri… Hey, she’s not getting up. OMFG! SHE’S DEAD!!! Death by her own forbidden action?! That is, passing the fourth time limit with Naegi alive. That doesn’t sound fair. Naegi is in despair when Munakata contacts him. He should have known of Kirigiri’s forbidden action by now. He mocks this is why his hope is useless. It is time to settle whose hope is right.

Episode 10
Although Naegi puts on a brave face, he understands Kirigiri never said anything about this for she knows he will panic and run around to help her out, losing sight of his goal. The only thing he can do now is to face off with Munakata and settle this once and for all. The cat and mouse game begins as Naegi seems to be luring him into a certain room. It looked like Naegi has taken a beating and is going to be cut by his sword but he stops short. Naegi knows his forbidden action. He has observed the times he has chased him and all. Munakata cannot open doors. So if he kills him here now, he will be trapped in this room. Naegi wants to talk and cooperate but Munakata is not convinced. He will wipe out all despair even if it means sacrificing. Naegi disagrees that is not hope. All he is ever looking at is despair. Even if he gets rid of despair, that itself won’t create hope. Munakata reveals Tengan told him the truth. There is more than one killer. Everybody in Future Foundation is a killer! It made Munakata realize that Yukizome was also tainted with despair. There was a photo of kids being massacred and she was in despair who did this. When in actual fact it was her who did it. When did she first get tainted with despair? That is why he will rid of despair even if it is only a memory. Naegi disagrees again and doesn’t want him to say that he’ll rid of others like Yukizome. He gives example had Kirigiri turned into despair and betrayed everyone and had Naegi had no choice but to kill her, no matter what he would still be glad to have met her. I guess those are the winning words because Munakata’s scream of despair could only mean that, right? As the guys sit and cool themselves down, Munakata can only lament when did they go wrong. Asahina then comes in to tell them to stop killing each other because she has found out who the killer is.

Episode 11
According to Kirigiri’s notes on her observations, she believes the victims killed themselves and it has something to do with the monitors. Naegi tests this out as he is tied up and placed next to a monitor before the next sleeping session comes into effect. Naegi then wakes up first and sees a pre-recorder video of Monokuma on the monitor. He watches some weird crap sh*t on the video and the next thing he knows, he is hallucinating and sees his dead pals from the first season. All blaming him and then tempting him to come over to their side. Naegi goes crazy as he picks up a knife dropped from the monitor and tries to kill himself. Luckily he is stopped and snapped out by Sakakura. Why is he still awake? He cut of his hand! Bloody! Naegi explains that the killer is actually the victim committing suicide. When everyone is asleep, the monitor detects the one closest via the wristband and wakes him/her up to watch a brainwashing video before committing suicide. Naegi wants his help to destroy all the monitors. Is he crazy? Does he know how many there are? Sakakura is not going to do it. He tells Naegi he hated him because he defeated Enoshima who once brainwashed him. He knew she was evil but never reported to him and this is the result. In the end, he believes Munakata abandoned him for that. When the rest wake up and learn of this, Munakata believes the only one who can set all this up is Tengan. Because he is the true Remnants. It is hard to believe that old guy is the culprit as Munakata continues that his team were once investigating Enoshima and all evidence pointed to her as the evil. But Munakata heard from Sakakura and Yukizome that she isn’t evil and he believed them despite he knew better otherwise. That is when Tengan took advantage of their weakness. Sakakura is at the breaker room and turns off the power, cutting electricity to the monitors and releasing the wristbands. OMG. That simple?! Why didn’t somebody think of this in the first place?! Naegi tells Munakata to go to Sakakura. Even though he abandoned him, Sakakura still believe in him to get him out of this game. By the time he arrives, too late to apologize to a dead body. In the aftermath, Naegi asks Mitarai about the videos because it seems as a super animator only he can make this. Mitarai is fraught with guilt but insists he didn’t do it but Enoshima stole his technology. Suddenly Mitarai gets a call from Tengan!

Episode 12
Many years before, Yukizome passed a USB containing the video that brainwashed the Remnants to Tengan. She lies she has never seen its contents. He took and kept it. Now, that call from Tengan is a pre-recorded video of him admitting he is the mastermind of this! Mitarai falls into despair as he explains how all this came to. It was his brainwashing video. He ran away then but now he won’t. Now he is going to put an end to this by showing the world another brainwashing video filled with hope. Fighting fire with fire? He can do it now since his forbidden action was the use of his talent. It seems Mitarai disagrees with Naegi’s way in overcoming despair as the former believes despair as long as it exists, humans will repeat this tragedy. He makes Asahina watch his brainwashing video and orders her to stop Naegi. Mitarai stumbles into the special forces, has them watch his video, spread it to others as well as a special order to eliminate those who gets in his way. Naegi could have been done for but Munakata saves him and hears him out. It is then Naegi realizes Tengan isn’t one of the Remnants. So he setup this elaborate mutual killing to force Mitarai into doing this? Also, the killings aren’t broadcast outside. Naegi remembers Mitarai wasn’t supposed to be in the meeting. That’s why Tengan was a bit surprised. Had Mitarai know there was going to be mutual killings, he would have used the video. Also, all the hopeful things Tengan said weren’t directed towards Naegi but Mitarai. They deduce Mitarai is going to eliminate all negative emotions with his broadcast. He is making his way to the annex where he can broadcast his video to the entire world in 30 minutes. Naegi and co rush there but are obstructed by the special forces. Now we take a detour to Enoshima and Yukizome commenting on everything. It’s like a cinema for dead people? So Enoshima explains about Tengan’s actions and the main cause of Tengan and Munakata’s hostility boiled down to their interpretations of despair. The source was Yukizome because she told Munakata to eliminate despair. There are clips of Naegi trying to ‘repair’ the Remnants in his secret location via brainwashing virtual reality but he was summoned to Future Foundation before he could learn the results. Even if Mitarai is successful, Future Foundation’s image is tarnished and nobody is going to follow it. So Enoshima thinks. She is glad despair did a good job. But Yukizome still believes even though their future is over, this is the beginning of hope. Not that Enoshima cares. They’re dead, right? Cornered Naegi is saved by bumbling Hagakure. He even suggests they surrender! Till Togami comes in and has his efficient MIBs take out the squad! Seeing Naegi in a pinch, he taunts if he is really that lucky.

Hopelessly Hopeful
Oh wait a minute. You mean it ended on a cliff-hanger? Just like that Despair arc too? Oh, I see. Looks like they are going to link up the finale with that hope arc. The final episode that converges and ends everything. I guess it is not that bad then but as far as this particular season and arc goes, I would say it is rather intriguing and fascinating overall.

Following the first season’s formula of mutual killings, this season still feels interesting since they bring in a new bunch of faces and mix old ones who survived the last killing game. The fun on my part was to guess who was going to go next while trying to also predict the culprit behind it all. Of course I know certain main characters would last longer or if not survive the ordeal. But I could never be too sure of myself either because I keep thinking that they might add and throw in some twist or revelation that the real killer is somebody else hiding outside the game (or somewhere inside the building’s super secret room) or it could be just straightforward fashion that the perpetrator could be among them.

A theory of mine for saying so is because when this arc is first introduced, there is a counter in the opening credits that always keeps track of how many players are left in the field. It started off with 16 survivors. However as I started to count and trace who those 16 players are, there seems to be one there is missing. I mean, as far as I can count and name, there are only 15 of them trapped in the building playing this deadly game. So could this extra unknown person be the real perpetrator? It’s not like we viewers would actually count who is left, right? Or do we? This is true even in the penultimate episode as it gets clearer with the reduced number of survivors. There seems to be 1 extra player but who is that person? It made me think if this was even a troll because maybe that additional person could be Hagakure who has been kept out of the building since the start of the series. Or could that other person be Monaka who is controlling Gekkogahara? Even if the android personality got destroyed, it only reduced the survivor count by one. My guess is Hagakure since his mug is alongside the other Future Foundation members in many promotion posters.

Some of the theories feel like impossible and do not make sense like Kirigiri deducing that the entire playfield is actually another very similar level below the actual building. Assuming that if Tengan was the perpetrator, how the heck can this old fart move everyone in record time without breaking his back? Well, everybody here is a super at something so it is not surprise maybe he can pull off such feat. Plus, we don’t really know how long time has passed since they passed out the first time. Then the forbidden actions on the wristbands, I wonder how it sophistically detects forbidden actions because like Bandai’s case he dies if he witnesses violence by the participants. How is violence defined? Can slapping be considered violence? Some I feel can be easily bypassed like if Munakata cannot open doors, can he just use his trusty sword to cut down the wall and make his own doors? Yeah, maybe the walls are so hard that he couldn’t. Otherwise he would have cut a hole outside and escape. Oh, they can’t. Underwater.

The most ridiculous of them all is cutting off the power to somewhat end the game. To be fair, nobody knew the monitors had anything to do with the wristbands at first but when you think about it, you can’t help feel it is just silly yet simple solution. I guess when everybody is busy killing each other, they don’t really think outside the box. Of course the mind boggling one was Tengan himself being the mastermind. So he orchestrated this mutual killing just to make Mitarai use his video? It’s such a simple thing. People had to die so that somebody would use his brainwashing talents to save the world? So this old fart is playing the role of the villain? He sure trolled us by making us think so and that he might be the final last boss till the twist in the twist surfaced. I guess it is the question of if you want to save many, a few must be sacrificed. So will Mitarai be the final last boss now? I suppose it is not good just to have all positive emotions. Because that itself is not being human.

I am not sure whether to call it spoilers or knowledge beforehand because since this arc is aired side by side with the Despair arc, many of the revelations and the character backgrounds are related. Therefore if you watch this series without watching the Despair arc at the same time, you might be confused to some of the characters’ background. For instance, the ‘complicated’ relationship between Ruruka, Seiko and Izayoi. Their story might feel like a filler and distraction to the main plot of this arc since you need to know all about the character they died. It’s like a death flag or something. But if you don’t watch the Despair arc, you won’t really understand why they hate each other.

Therefore many of the other characters’ back story and relationship greatly depend on the other concurrently running arc that tells of what happened in the past that led to the situation that is of now. It goes without saying that you need to have watched the first Danganronpa series to understand what is going on too otherwise you would be lost as the series progresses. But some like Monaka’s case feels like distraction. It was just an elaborate sidetrack to show us that there was somebody else behind Gekkogahara and to give Naegi’s little sister as well as Togami’s insane admirer some screen time.

The art and animation style remains consistent among the series. But for this one, I find the character designs to be less weird than the rest. You know, very odd looking characters that make them look cartoonish. By far, the oddest looking one was Bandai whom I thought looked creepy himself. Thank goodness he got killed off early? Gozu despite wearing a metal bull mask isn’t so bad. Oh, not to mention the pink coloured blood, one of the series’ trademark. Everything is so dark and gory so why the heck not liven it up with bright pink? And when I mean dark, some of the scenes are really dark since like the hallways and some ruined sections of the building.

Seiyuus from the previous season like Megumi Ogata as Naegi, Youko Hikasa as Kirigiri and Chiwa Saito as Asahina return to reprise their roles. Among the new casts, the weirdest one I find is Rie Kugimiya as Bandai. I know this farmer guy looks weird already but it is even weirder when he sounds all so squeaky! I don’t know if it is a good thing when he got killed off early because I don’t think I can get used to hearing him in his squeaky voice throughout the season. Recognizable seiyuus new to the line-up include Junichi Suwabe as Sakakura, Keiji Fujiwara as Kizakura and Mai Nakahara as Yukizome. Aya Hirano was behind Monaka? I guess I haven’t heard her in a long time (the most recent being Fairy Tail’s recent season) so I’m starting to forget…

The rest of the new line-up include Toshiyuki Morikawa as Munakata (Naraku in Inu Yasha), Hidekatsu Shiba as Tengan (Igneel in Fairy TailKanta), Hongou as Mitarai (Sakamoto in BTOOOM), Takako Sasuga as Gekkogahara (Hata-bou in Osomatsu-kun), Kenta Miyake as Gozu (Klaus in Hayate No Gotoku), Inori Minase as Ruruka (Nagisa in Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa), Takuya Eguchi as Izayoi (Hikigaya in Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru), Saki Fujita as Seiko (Inami in Working) and Aya Uchida as Komaru (Kotori in Love Live). Both the opening and ending themes are rock based with Dead Or Lie by Maon Kurosaki featuring Trustrick as the opener and Recall The End by Trustrick as the ending theme.

Overall, this is a great and enjoyable series especially if you like survivor genres and a fan of the Danganronpa series. I read certain comments online (read: fan boys of the game) call the anime adaptation a disappointment because certain parts were rushed and how bad its execution was. Personally I didn’t play the game so I can’t compare. Therefore for me not knowing ‘everything’, this adaptation is still interesting in its own right and I am quite satisfied with the series generally (except maybe how it ended and you need to watch another arc to complete it). So look who’s fallen into despair? It makes you wonder if hope and despair are 2 sides of the same coin. The same glass is half full or half empty expression. Both need each other to exist, like light and darkness, yin and yang. So it might get a little confusing in this series when they talk about hope killing hope and despair killing despair. It’s like saying two wrongs make a right. I guess we can only hope the next instalment would be better and the greatest (if there would be any). Where is a super high school level game developer when you need one?

If you love the original animated Danganronpa series, then we have good news for you. Make that double good news. Because not only Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc was released as a sequel, it was also aired alongside with another arc (Future Arc) in the same season and both series run concurrently side by side with each other. Double the fun, double the despair. For this one, as its name suggests it takes place as the prequel before Naegi’s class entered the deadly survival game and details the events that led to the biggest despair incident to have been brought down on mankind. If you have not watched the original Danganronpa series, be warned there will be some spoilers here since this is a prequel.

Episode 1
Chisa Yukizome is being hired by Hope Peak’s principal, Jin Kirigiri as a teacher. She starts her first day enthusiastic but finds there are only 5 students turned up: Hiyoko Saionji (super traditional dancer – bratty girl), Mahiru Koizumi (photographer – normal girl), Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu (gangster – wait, WTF?!), Sonia Nevermind (princess – wait, huh?) and Mikan Tsumiki (health committee – hentai potential). Seeing how the class don’t get along well, Yukizome as the former super housekeeper decides to bring them along as they go retrieve their other classmates. In the toilet Nekomaru Nidai (team manager – his sh*t is so powerful it blasts through the wall!), in the cafeteria Teruteru Hanamura (cook – also super masochist), in the field Akane Owari (gymnastics – also a glutton), in the garage Kazuichi Soda (mechanic – sorry, Sonia doesn’t love you), in the animal shed Tanaka the Forbidden One (animal raiser – chuunibyou), in the music room Ibuki Mioda (rocker – is she rocking her guitar or cooking?), in the dojo Peko Pekoyama (swordswoman – don’t mess with her) and at the vending machine Nagito Komaeda (lucky – or is that unlucky?). Seeing the class is dirty, Yukizome has them clean the class while she goes pick up a couple of more missing students. One of them is Ryouta Mitarai (animator – chubby) who is trying to run away thinking she is the editor trying to force the deadline on him. Last is Chiaki Nanami (gamer) who is somehow with Hajime Hinata who is a student of the Reverse Course that was newly established last year. This course is for ordinary students but the fees are high. Hinata laments he wished to have a talent but Nanami says it doesn’t make a difference whether you have it or not. In fact ordinary people like them have greater freedom than those with talent because like for her, all she has are her games. With her students assembled (and the class clean as hell too), Yukizome is revved up that she can retrieve them the same day tomorrow. Later Yukizome calls Kyousuke Munakata to tell him she got a teaching job at Hope Peak. She assures him she will be okay without him since Munakata is planning to expand Hope Peak to overseas and won’t be around. She is grateful to this school as it allowed her to meet him.

Episode 2
Yukizome thought she has everything under control till she gets a call her class is in trouble. Owari and Nidai are fighting each other and ripping the class apart! But since they say it is for realistic combat training, she lets them continue. Nanami leaves the class believing she doesn’t mix with them since her super gaming skills will set her for life. But Yukizome advises her to make friends as it will be more fun to play with everyone. Yukizome is also doing a secret investigation for Munakata on Reverse Course. As these students pay very high fees, these funds are channelled to the board of trustees that controls the school. The issue is how the money is being used. Munakata has her investigate more as he notes if the overseas expansion is successful, it will give him a better voice. Later Yukizome talks to Hinata about why he enrols in Reverse Course. However he has low self esteem so she tells him to believe in himself. Subsequently the school’s advisor, Kazuo Tengan talks to him if he has made his decision. Not yet. Tengan is against that project because hope comes from people acting like people. Hinata is concerned his family cannot pay the high fees so Tengan tells him he can always decline and return to his normal high school and live as himself. There is nothing wrong being normal. When Yukizome returns to class, she sees everyone playing video games. Everyone chipped in to make the necessary as Nanami brought her games. She is glad that Yukizome was right that she can make friends via games. With everyone having their go at Nintendo rip-offs, Hanamura then cooks for everyone. Can’t play for hours on an empty stomach, can you? However Saionji cheekily puts Hanamura’s sexy potion into the soup and this turns everyone horny! Steamy scenes, gay scenes, lesbian scenes and sexual subtexts! It gets out of hand when Hanamura is about to rape Saionji but Nanami saves her with her super uppercut. What has Taylor Swift got to do with this?! The girls praise Nanami recuperating in the infirmary as she happily relates her uppercut inspiration from Double Dragon. Next day, Yukizome makes Nanami as the class rep. Everyone unanimously agrees so she agrees to give it a try. It lifts her spirits that she goes to invite Hinata to play a game with her. Next day in Hinata’s class, Natsumi Kuzuryu is the new transfer student. She starts off as a b*tch as you can tell how she badmouths everyone as trash and thinks highly of herself.

Episode 3
Hinata narrates his dream of attending Hope Peak. In class, Natsumi teases him since he is constantly looking at the main building. She proclaims herself as the super little sister since her brother is the heir of the Kuzuryu Gang. But if she is here, does that mean she is talentless? She hasn’t given up yet and will do what it takes to get into the main course. Natsumi is then confronted by fellow classmate, Sato who hates her guts to the very end as she warns not to pull off some sneaky move on Koizumi (seems the trio were once in the same photography club). Natsumi is not cowed as she badmouths and even threatens her with death. Typical gangster move, right? Koizumi comes by to quell the tension but even so Natsumi gives out her threats and make it sound like Koizumi is here to mock talentless people. Fuyuhiko talks to Pekoyama about his sister’s problem. He doesn’t want to jump to conclusions yet and reminds her that they have nothing between them now since enrolling here. Pekoyama is Fuyuhiko’s bodyguard and hitman. Hinata sees Sato and Natsumi arguing again. Sato is about to hit her for yet another badmouth rant but Hinata stops her. Hinata talks to Natsumi about her intimidation as he tries to advise her using Nanami’s words about life is more to just talent. But Natsumi disagrees although Hinata knows how it feels for being left behind. Apparently being with her brother and making memories with him aren’t just enough. She wants to stand by his side and be with him. Later, Hinata sees a commotion around the building and the police have barricaded the place. It seems Natsumi has been murdered in the music room!

Hinata eavesdrop Koizumi talking to Sato if she has killed Natsumi. At first Sato really wanted to kill her because she believed Natsumi was going to do kill Koizumi. However she realizes she has no talent to even kill people. So that’s that. Koizumi believes her. Hinata then confronts Sato about it but she starts panicking cooking up theories like Natsumi might have killed herself for being talentless. Then she goes crazy and runs away. Sato never turned up to class for a few days. Then her body was found. Hinata tries to enter the main building to speak to Koizumi for answers but is stopped by the head security, Juzo Sakakura. He is given an answer what happened but it felt like the authorities is trying to sweep the problem under the rug. When Hinata becomes resistant, he is beaten up. Sakakura continues to badmouth talentless people like him by making it up with money and they should just live a normal life instead of thinking they have some sort of talent. Hinata disagrees with his train thought and before Sakakura could punch him, Yukizome gets in the way. After Hinata leaves, Sakakura reminds her about her mission and shouldn’t be too involved with such normal students. Even so, Yukizome believes that was just pure violence and she should stop him as a human. He shouldn’t beat up students who don’t know anything. Sakakura warns if he digs in too much, he will be the one dying. They fear Hope Peak might be going down the wrong path and if so, only Munakata can stop this. Meanwhile Jin tells Tengan that the project about artificial hope and artificial talent has been given the green light as the subject has decided to participate. Because Hinata has finally decided to join and become everyone’s hope.

Episode 4
Yukizome informs her class about the upcoming exams. However nobody is in good mood seeing the double murders. Komaeda later pleads to her to cancel it but since there is nothing she can do, he is going to do something himself. After giving a sexy idol poster to Hanamura, this allows him to get access and up close with Seiko Kimura. He is seeking laxatives for her but because she has to entertain Ruruka Andou and Sounosuke Izayoi who are bugging her for a performance enhancing drug, Komaeda has to go get it himself. He is unsure which drug to take and lets his luck set fate in motion. After much pressure and talk about ‘friendship’, Seiko gives in and agrees to make a drug for her. Next day, there is a threatening message on the board to cancel the exam or else there will be hell to pay. Of course the authorities do not take this seriously and carry on with the exam. Little do they know there are bombs hidden in the hall’s ceiling. Ruruka serves her cream puff to the judges. Super awesome as expected. But suddenly their stomach starts to ache. Trying to find what is happening, Ruruka starts thinking Seiko intended to sabotage her and gave her the wrong drug. Seiko looks into her bag for a cure but sees a remote control for the bombs! This is when Ruruka starts accusing Seiko on just about everything. I believe they have trust issues from the start. This makes Seiko snap as she too calls her a traitor.

Meanwhile Komaeda thinks he has got everything in order. When he accidentally spills a drink and a dog drinks it, it grows into a giant! Realizing the drug he put wasn’t the laxative, he opens the bag to find only medicine. He remembers bumping into Seiko this morning and their bags must have switched. The dog runs rampage in the hall. Seiko and Ruruka panic and accidentally press the button. Boom! Hall exploded. Komaeda notes he didn’t do anything but this was the result he intended. So is this super lucky? Later Komaeda is given the talk by Yukizome. He jokes about being a trash but she slaps him. She assures he is not trash and she is his teacher. Because of this incident, Ruruka, Seiko and Izayoi have been expelled immediately. Although some are calling for Komaeda’s expulsion, he wasn’t directly involved but yet got his desired results. That takes a lot of luck. Therefore as compromise he will be suspended indefinitely and Yukizome will be transferred to Reverse Course since she is taking responsibility as his teacher. Her students are hounding for answers and if they wonder if this is a mistake. Yukizome explains that Komaeda did this in their best interest so when he returns, please give him a warm welcome. As for her transfer, she sees it as a training stint and will be back. Well, at least she is able to investigate closer the shady dealings behind Reverse Course. Oops. I don’t think that was a joke.

Episode 5
Six months have passed. Yukizome speaks to Sakakura if he could get an ID of the board of trustees for her. She explains the Kamukura Project which has begun in secret. Something big is going on since Kamukura is the name of Hope Peak’s founder. In order to investigate more, she needs an ID. Sakakura will try but if caught, he could be fired. She adds about Hinata that he suddenly quit school around the time she heard about the project. Yukizome will soon be transferred back to the main course. Komaeda has not been heard ever since but they hope to lift his suspension. When she returns to class, her students are already waiting to pop the surprise welcome. They heard from a teacher about her return and prepared the necessary. Everyone credits Nanami for pulling this together. In addition, she is the one who organized activities and supported the class during Yukizome’s absence. Other notable differences are Saionji who has a growth spurt and busty lady (curse you puberty!) and Sonia taking after Tanaka’s chuunibyou. Meanwhile Mitarai returns to his room to see a skinnier version of himself pushing to create an anime that will save everyone?! On the other hand, Enoshima returns and waits at the airport for Ikusaba. They are putting forth in motion a plan that will lead to the most atrocious despair incident in human history by enrolling in Hope Peak. There is a short narration by skinny Mitarai that he was often bullied. Physically weak, he believes anime saved him. Because he is working so hard and disregarding his own health, fat Mitarai ‘kidnaps’ Tsumiki to nurse him. He explains the truth. Both guys were living next door to each other. Fatty has no name and is a super imposter. He lives his life in the guise of others although it doesn’t last long. Noting that skinny Mitarai only wants to make anime, he views their interest overlap and requests to take over his name. Skinny Mitarai can shut himself in and make anime all he wants while fat Mitarai will take over his place. Thankfully fatty trusts his classmates so Tsumiki doesn’t have to die or sell her body. Oh God, what was she thinking? Meanwhile Hinata is in some sort of experiment. Still in a daze, he believes he will become the protagonist of his own story and someone who can be proud around Nanami.

Episode 6
At the end of Hinata’s experiment… He grows longer hair?! He is also given the new name Izuru Kamukura, Hope Peak’s founder. He will be the world’s new hope. Sakakura manages to sneak an ID for Yukizome although it has a time limit. This is also the same ID of a trustee that has recently gone missing so be careful. Speaking of that trustee, he is kidnapped by Enoshima and tortured. Yukizome hacks into the trustee’s computer to shockingly read about the project. Despite the subject will become humanity’s hope and gain every known talent in the world, he will lose his emotions, personality and ideals. It is a small price to pay to save the world. The project has already moved on to testing phase. Yukizome reports to Munakata who fears the worst thing is not the public finding out but an unscrupulous person using this for his own gain. Hope will become despair that will threaten the world. Munakata will immediately return and until then she is not to say a word about this to anyone. Enoshima and Ikusaba use the trustee’s eye at the retinal scan to enter Kamukura’s room. At first she fawns over this dude but suddenly wants to kill him for being mankind’s hope. However Kamukura easily pins her down and not even Ikusaba can do anything. He asks if he has super analytical abilities that can calculate several steps ahead, why she even tried this. Because despair is an unknown. She is bored with the world with its pre-existing harmony. Only despair sets her heart racing. Despite being overwhelmed by him, she is having so much fun. Erm, isn’t that just being a masochist? Enoshima tries to coax him to join her side. Because hope doesn’t lead to the unknown. He won’t find salvation there. Only despair can save him. Enoshima is knocked out and the next thing she knows she is in the hospital bed. It seems Kamukura didn’t tell anybody about this. He told Ikusaba to leave Enoshima a message: He will be waiting. So he is taking up her offer? Enoshima is so happy that she waltzes out of hospital. That is where she bumps into skinny Mitarai just coming in. She doesn’t know why she feels so happy to see him and starts hugging him. She believes this must be yet another fateful encounter.

Episode 7
Enoshima badmouths anime so when Mitarai counters her, she dares him to show it. Of course she is absolutely moved and no other anime crap will do! He explains how he uses everything to make such a great anime but all Enoshima must have heard was how it brainwashes others. Hearing Mitarai wants to make a better world, you don’t say because Enoshima too had the same intentions… When fat Mitarai tells Tsumiki his skinny version is missing, she goes to check on him at his room but Ikusaba sees her and kidnaps her. Sakakura tells Yukizome that many trustee members have also gone missing. Security is now so tight that he can’t get an idea of what is happening. Enoshima is providing skinny Mitarai a comfortable room to create his anime (courtesy from the trustees, if you get what I mean). Ikusaba brings in Tsumiki and they make her watch Mitarai’s anime. Touched as hell. Enoshima super analyzes the situation and forms a plan. This involves bringing Kamukura to witness something extraordinary. In a classroom where Hope Peak’s student council members, Ikusaba announces all of them to kill each other. At first they refuse thinking it is a joke but when she demonstrates by killing one of them, she gives them 2 options: Kill each other or be killed by her. For motivation, there are videos containing their darkest secrets. So if you don’t want those out… All it took is just 1 crazy and disillusioned member to start the ball rolling. Next thing you know, we see everybody killing everybody and blood everywhere. Enoshima narrates to Kamukura the unpredictability of despair that will save him a boring future. The last standing member faces off with Kamukura. Of course he couldn’t best him. A fluke made him accidentally killed himself. Jin is upset that the plan is already in motion and being covered up by the authorities just to continue their existence. Enoshima deals the fatal blow by sending a message to all the students about this project being funded by the Reverse Course’s exorbitant fees. Making it worse is how all the student council members were found murdered by this Kamukura specimen and the school is trying to cover this up out of self preservation and hide their failed experimentation. It makes the Reverse Course students accomplices to murder. Naturally all of them are enraged after reading this as a mob gathers to demonstrate against this scam.

Episode 8
With the students trying to barge their way in, the higher ups are getting worried and need to act before the government steps in. Tsumiki has turned into an obsessed worshipper and slave for Enoshima. Mitarai is unsure of how she turned like that but when he clicks a preview video in a mysterious folder, he sees footage of the student council members killing each other. He becomes sick. He thinks Tsumiki saw this and went crazy. She tries to seduce him so he can help them out to realize Enoshima’s goal but Enoshima beats the crap out of her for being a slut. And she loves it! Mitarai is scared as Enoshima explains (with video) that she plans to turn the entire world into despair. However she lacks the brainwashing power that Mitarai has and wants him to make one which is way better than his last. Mitarai tries to run but is warned she might make his classmates kill each other next. Everyone is worried that Tsumiki has not showed up in class for a long time. Even if Komaeda returns, they are not in a mood to celebrate. He then tells them he saw Tsumiki at an area. This has everyone go look for her. Sakakura is having trouble fending off the invading students. He is surprised Munakata is back and is going to lend a hand. Sakakura tries to call Yukizome but she isn’t picking up because she is busy looking for her students. Komaeda and Nanami are at the founder’s statue. By luck, he opens a secret underground passageway that leads to skinny Mitarai’s room. That guy swamped with fear as he thinks he hasn’t done anything bad yet. Enoshima and Komaeda face off. He tells her Ikusaba can’t come to her aid because he talked to Pekoyama to keep her at bay. Komaeda pulls out a gun at Enoshima. He will do anything to protect hope. He views despair as a stepping stone to hope. So he wants to test if he could kill her, it means she wasn’t good enough as hope’s stepping stone. Suddenly he senses Kamukura behind him. Komaeda pulls the trigger but it is jammed. Kamukura whispers he too has good luck. He snatches the gun from him and shoots in his chest. Luckily luck didn’t abandon Komaeda because his handbook stopped the bullet. Nanami takes a closer look at Kamukura. He’s Hinata, right? Mitarai runs away fearing for his life. That’s when he bumps into Yukizome who assures it is her duty to protect her students. She has a bad feeling about this as she heads downstairs.

Episode 9
Enoshima just warmed up introducing herself to Nanami. Yukizome throws a fire extinguisher so that Nanami can take Komaeda and leave. Enoshima explains this will be the last day Yukizome and her students will be themselves as they will fall into despair as part of her plan. She knows Nanami will call her classmates to come and rescue her. True enough, Nanami explains what is happening and despite Komaeda’s not to go against them because their despair level is off the charts, they still want to go save their teacher. Fat Mitarai reveals his true identity to everyone and also wants to join in. Munakata has done his research and no matter what, all evidence points back to Enoshima as the culprit. Sakakura will go find her and bring her back for interrogation. Yukizome is forced to watch a brainwashed student hack himself to death and then strapped down to watch a video of the killings. She is resisting hard so Ikusaba sticks some needles into her head trying to adjust the frequency or something?! Creepy! Yukizome’s students encounter the angry Reverse Course students who think by ridding them they can get their seat. Nidai and Tanaka fight them to let the rest through. Skinny Mitarai is running away and being chased by the mob. Then he trips and is surrounded. Enoshima pops up and his here to thank and say goodbye to him. She is grateful his collaboration will help turn the world into despair although he argues his works is for the betterment of the world. In the end, he is forced to run because that is what Enoshima tells him to do. Running away is his despair. He falls into a flowing river. Sakakura has found Enoshima and is going to give her a good beat down. Yukizome’s students trek down the basement filled with hope. Since Nanami and Tsumiki are at the back of the pack, Tsumiki pushes Nanami down a secret shaft. When she wakes up, she finds Yukizome by her side as she claims Kamukura freed her.

Episode 10
What a surprise. Sakakura lost to Enoshima! She then begins to mock his one-sided love for Munakata. She threatens to show pictures of him fawning over Munakata’s pictures if he doesn’t report back that she is innocent. Very unfortunately, Sakakura complies. Blinded by love or despair? Nanami is shoved into a dark elevator by Yukizome. Enoshima appears on monitor revealing to Nanami about Yukizome being brainwashed by the despair video. However she feels that she is a step away from perfection. And Nanami will be that perfection. When all her classmates finally gather in a strange room, Enoshima is on the monitor again and is going to make them watch a video called Nanami’s Punishment. We see Nanami trying to dodge all sorts of dangerous traps in a dungeon. She has already taken some damage but still tries to maintain her positivism that she will not give up. Her classmates can only helplessly watch and cannot move because of the hypnotism effect. Just when Nanami reaches the goal door, all the spikes impale her. Game over. This drives all her classmates spiralling into despair and madness. Enoshima congratulates her new ‘colleagues’ as they will bring the world ultimate despair. Nanami in her final moments sees Kamukura standing before her. She realizes he has no memories being Hinata. Even in this state, she is trying to be positive. She doesn’t want to die and continue to be with her classmates but all is in vain as she struggles till her last breath. Kamukura picks up her hairpin and couldn’t understand why tears start flowing down his cheeks.

Episode 11
Munakata is told that the overseas expansion is cancelled. No reason is given. Then he asks Sakakura about his report in which he lies through his teeth that Enoshima is innocent. Munakata has his doubts at first so he confirms it with Yukizome who also says Enoshima is innocent. It is then Munakata believes he was wrong all along. Enoshima sets off the biggest chaotic despair with all the Reverse Course students getting violent and barging into the main building to slaughter everyone. While Yukizome gives her graduation speech to her class (everybody is under some sort of hypnotic despair too) and ends it by detonating a bomb! Enoshima wonders why Kamukura asked her to erase memories of him from the memories of others. As he will meet them in the future, he wants to know if hope or despair is the unpredictable factor. That is why he too will have his own memories erased. It will be more fun that way. After that they part ways. Jin and Tengan are trapped inside the school’s building. They see on the news the worldwide chaos. While Tengan wants to escape as they can’t do anything much here, Jin wants to stay behind to entrust hope to the survivors. Enoshima ends everything by having the Reverse Course students commit suicide when they’re done killing others. Ikusaba wonders why she didn’t have them join her ranks. They might have their brains rewired like hers but they are too low specs to be of any use. She warns Ikusaba to watch out because she’ll backstab her without hesitation. Then they go join Naegi’s class. We finally get the answer to why they were barricaded inside the building is because they themselves put up the barricades. Enoshima notes Naegi’s luck and wants to test it out. He is lucky he missed getting killed by her. Enoshima rethinks her decision to kill him because she doesn’t want him to derail her plans. Yukizome’s students are somehow outside. Munakata picks up Yukizome from the rubble. As narrated, her students go all over the world to spread despair. Everything fell apart as part of Enoshima’s plan. Sakakura deeply regrets not stopping Enoshima that it has led to this. Yukizome cries crocodile tears pleading to Munakata to stop this insanity so that she can make him despair more deeply than any of them.

Zetsubou Shita!
Well, it is with mixed feelings the way this arc ended. I knew it was going to be on the tragedy side but yet I feel so unsatisfied about it. I know everything hasn’t really ended yet and the only thing that has ended is hope. Especially that final scene about Hinata and Nanami nicely meeting each other at some island resort. What the heck was that? A dream? No way, man. Please don’t troll me any further when my sentiments are already this shaky. Gosh. Am I in despair???!!! Oh my God. Say it isn’t so. Phew. At least I didn’t take up a weapon and trash everything around me. Thankfully it isn’t 100% despair because there is still hope. Turns out there will be an episode to end and bridge this as announced at the end of the final episode but that will be for next time.

Unlike the first Danganronpa series and the Future Arc, this one breaks away from the mutual killing game of picking off each other one by one. Sure, there’s that student council version of it but that lasts only for minutes and serves as an appetizer. This arc heavily focuses on Enoshima’s grand foundation in building up her plans to bring ultimate despair to the world and the unfortunate souls who became victims of her mind controlling schemes. So if you are hoping and guessing from the promotional poster arc that these would be the ‘new’ characters to kill each other off in a survival game, you’d be very far off the mark. Of course this is assuming you didn’t play the game and like yours truly came to this assumption.

This means that the class under Yukizome’s care feel like they aren’t fleshed out properly. Each has their own interesting and quirky personality that makes them all so different in every way but because we don’t mostly see them do fun things together throughout the series (like Nanami’s video game session), it feels like their initial introduction in the first episode was like some sort of trolling and has been watered down as the series progresses and focused on other happenings. So if you want to have an idea of what Nanami’s class did together, the best bet is watch the ending credits animation where there is a montage of it. Well, I’m not saying that all characters in every Danganronpa series are fleshed out. This is the case for characters who are killed off very early. However for these special super talented students, they aren’t really killed off so it makes their roles for this arc feeling a bit much more to be desired. Like as though they’re just waiting around till the final moments of the plot to become somewhat relevant.

Hence among the students of this main course class that get the most screen time or at least playing more notable roles are Nanami and skinny Mitarai. Sadly, Nanami is the only main character to die. I know you’re going to remind me about Natsumi and Sato but they’re just minor characters whom you’ll forget once this arc reaches its end. What happened to Mitarai after he got washed away? I suppose he just kept running and running and running. Supposedly strong characters like Sakakura and Yukizome who are thought to be able to put up a decent fight against despair, ironically succumb to it. At least it shows they are human, right? They too have weaknesses and not perfect. Hey, being super high school level currently or formerly doesn’t mean that you are perfect like God. You just happen to be more successful than others normally. Finally, Hinata/Kamukura felt a bit of a waste. Of course from where the plot of this arc is going, there is nothing much he can do. But I thought it was a waste to have this all-so-powerful-God like as though he is very much the last boss to fight and lose but he is just observing and biding his time. That’s all.

In one of the biggest ironies, the higher ups trying to play God and create their own artificial super level of hope instead ushered in the biggest despair instead. Normal students pay big money in return to get some sort of future hope but what they got was a big let-down and ultimately despair. That’s what happened when a large sum of money is involved. Can you now say that in addition to money is the root of all evil, it is now the root of all despair? It is no longer just a sin to be poor but sad to be without money.

Another irony is Enoshima and her love for despair. It feels like a big contradiction. If she loves despair, shouldn’t she herself be wallowing in misery, desolation and hopelessness? Instead we see her revel and taking joy in seeing others suffer and this makes her more of a super level sadist than one who is gunning for ultimate despair. I mean, she did bring the world to its knees but she is happy in achieving that goal and seeing how it is brought upon others. In that sense, she is like a hypocrite to her own goal of despair. She should be called a super high school level evil maniacal mastermind sadist instead. If she really wants to go into despair, she should look at that Nozomu guy from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series. That guy is truly in despair.

I am not sure whether to call it spoilers or knowledge beforehand because since this arc is aired side by side with the Future arc, many of the revelations and the character backgrounds are related. Therefore if you watch this series without watching the Future arc at the same time, you might not be missing anything out since this took place before all the Danganronpa series chronologically. It stands alone by itself. But if you do watch the Future arc, you will find that there are quite a few incidents that will be related. So you can consider this arc as spoiler when you do so. Or if you’re being optimistic, it gives you better understanding when you watch the Future arc subsequently. For instance, the ‘complicated’ relationship between Ruruka, Seiko and Izayoi. While you might think their cameo appearance might be seen as one of the few driving points in the story and insignificant for this arc, you will find and understand better about their role in the Future arc which in a way makes sense. It also makes sense to learn why skinny Mitarai is the only ‘survivor’ among his class. You’ll see what I mean if you watched the Future arc. So spoilers or knowledge beforehand? Either way, both these series complement each other.

It goes without saying that despite this arc is chronologically the first, for those who have not watched the first season’s Danganronpa, you will be greatly spoiled because we all know who the main big villain is, right? Therefore watching this prequel arc hinges on pretty much on the assumption that you have watched the first season and you pretty much know what has happened. Doing so makes it easier to connect the dots and lines and gives you a better idea and understanding of what is generally happening.

The art and animation style remains consistent among the series. This means that some of the character design feels odd. Characters with odd looking parts that make them look more cartoonish than anything. For example Hanamura. This guy is already creepy as a little pervert and with his cartoon-like face like as though he popped out from some baking mascot cover, he looks even creepier if not funnier. Soda looks more like a rapper than a mechanic. Just saying… One thing I find odd is how the other non-important students of the Reverse Course are drawn as what I call ‘blue mannequins’. Every time I see them I feel like I wanna go “I’m blue da ba di da ba die”. No, seriously. With all the blue people around, it feels like they are clones or something. I understand that they paid through their noses to get enrolled here and when they found out the truth they get disappointed and hence the blues (okay, I’m just bullsh*tting) but it just looks odd to see them drawn this way. Well, we’ve seen the odd pink blood which is the trademark of this series.

A handful of recognizable seiyuus lend their talents to this series such as Kana Hanazawa as Nanami, Mai Nakahara as Yukizome, Junichi Suwabe as Sakakura, Akira Ishida as the imposter Mitarai, Jun Fukuyama as Hanamura, Tomokazu Sugita as Tanaka, Yu Kobayashi as Koizumi, Yoshimasa Hosoya as Soda, Hiroaki Yasumoto as Nidai, Ami Koshimizu as Mioda, Ai Shimizu as Sato and Rikiya Koyama as Jin. Oddly, Megumi Ogata who voiced Naegi in the other Danganronpa series plays Komaeda here. It gave me an impression that Komaeda might be his older brother or something related in this sense as they both have that similar feel. I mean, one is with super hope and the other is super luck. Talents which are somewhat intangible, right? At first I thought Aoi Yuuki was behind Saionji but I was greatly mistaken as it was Suzuko Mimori instead (Sherlock in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes).

For the rest of the new casts, they are Minami Tanaka as Hinata/Kamukura (Conan in Detective Conan), Kanata Hongou as Mitarai the animator (Sakamoto in BTOOOM), Ai Kayano as Tsumiki (Kanade in Chihayafuru), Daisuke Kishio as Fuyuhiko (Suginami in Da Capo series), Kotono Mitsushi as Pekoyama (Excel in Excel Saga), Romi Paku as Owari (Hitsugaya in Bleach), Miho Arakawa as Sonia (Hanabusa in Akuma No Riddle), Haruka Yamazaki as Natsumi (Tomoyo in Inou Battle Wa Nichijou-Kei No Naka De), Toshiyuki Morikawa as Munakata (Mard Geer in Fairy Tail), Hidekatsu Shibata as Tengan (Igneel in Fairy Tail), Saki Fujita as Seiko (Inami in Working), Inori Minase as Ruruka (Chino in Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka) and Takuya Eguchi as Izayoi (Kon in Ixion Saga DT).

The opening theme is Kami Iro Awase by Binaria. I’m not sure how to put it but It isn’t exactly a rock piece but it is in a way. I’m confused too. Maybe because the singer’s voice of singing the song in a calm way. Watching the opening credits at first made me think Shaft did this anime because of how similar its style is to the Monogatari series. Turns out to be Lerche who did Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, Hamatora, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Saijaku Muhai No Bahamut and Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai. The ending theme is Zettai Kibou Birthday by Megumi Ogata. At first I didn’t believe it was heard because from what I can hear it sounds like a man’s voice singing this rock outfit. I thought it might be some type error. I even looked at various sources and finally the ending credits itself and confirmed it is her singing this one. Straining my ears to closely hear, I finally realize it could be her. After all, she has this low voice and this makes her suitable to voice many anime roles for young boys.

Overall, the series is pretty interesting and sets the foundation and the ball rolling for the other Danganronpa series in a chronological sense. Despite the lack of mutual killings or the main characters being killed off (unless you consider falling into ultimate despair as a metaphor for the character being killed off) the plot and turn of events make it an interesting watch. At least it is good to take heart that the writer and producers of this series are so super high level because otherwise we would be brainwashed and fall into despair. Instead we leave with satisfaction and high hopes for the series. Naturally an ideal point if you want it to be a commercial success. Because what’s worse than the world falling into despair is for your series to be ultimately cancelled and then into oblivion forever. Then it would be truly zetsubou shita!

Mayoiga

November 6, 2016

Sick and tired of your life? Can’t seem to get it right? Societal norms and pressures of society aren’t doing anything good to you? Well, why not throw it all away and start life anew in a village far, far away that doesn’t exist on any map. That way, you can live your life the way you want without anybody telling you what to do. Live life the way you deem fit and to your liking. Wow. Sounds like a good deal. This seems to be the case for Mayoiga. A group of seemingly disgruntled young people with their own problems in life deciding to run away from it all by taking this once in a lifetime tour to redo their life from scratch. A society they can call their own cut off from the rest of the world. But will it be that simple and straightforward? You know how shady and small those small finer prints are especially if you’re staking it all from an unknown online source. Because it may look like paradise at first until something sinister seems to be lurking beneath it all. And you can’t call the police or your local ghostbusters to help you because nobody knows where you are. Heck, they don’t even know if you even exist anymore.

Episode 1
A group of 30 people believed to have discovered a secret website beneath all that coding are on a bus heading to Nanaki Village. Dahara is their tour guide and host as each of them introduce themselves and their goals. Basically, many of them are facing some sort of hardship and want a new start in life. This village is rumoured by online circles where people have gone vanished but in fact is believed to start a new life for themselves. After some discuss the few theories of its existence, they start singing a weird hippo song. Really. It’s weird. As the bus takes a break, Hayato talks to Mitsumune that he is sceptical of this tour because really, everyone else is a weirdo and that it is like some tour for overly self-conscious sickos to make friends. It is believed Mitsumune escaped from the cram school his parents sent him and wants to redo his life again. Mitsumune thought Masaki is having some sort of sickness. She talks about weird stuffs before her motion sickness catches up. He returns to the bus to get some pills. He notices Lion still at her seat and asks her why she joined this tour. She is not obliged to tell him but warns and hopes they don’t end up cannibalizing each other. The bus ride resumes. They play really weird bus games like how Mitsumune needs to read out his imaginary suicide note. That is when the bus driver tells them off young ones that they don’t know about life. Doing this is just irresponsible. Everyone has varying degrees of hardship but people his age tough it out. In his eyes, they’re like babies. Angry Valkana shuts him up to do his job because they pay him to drive and not lecture. After Mitsumune has some time bomb-cum-suicide nightmare, the driver loses his cool. He starts speeding in the rain and complains about his life. Economic downturn, no overtime pay, mother calls him for money, blah, blah, blah. So you guys want to start over? How about we start over and leave this world by dying happily together in an accident? Some of the guys beat up the driver but as Masaki tries to stop the fight, the driver steps on the brakes before they crash, causing her to vomit all over him. While cleaning up and resting, they hear a weird music coming out from a clock. Koharun explains it is Nanaki Village’s traditional nursery song and Dahara introduces her to everyone as the one who discovered the village’s location. Valkana shuts her up and tells her off that she is not in charge. The journey continues and soon they will be crossing a bridge directly into Nanaki Village.

Episode 2
The path becomes bumpy and dark. The bus slides off the slope. You mean they have to push it all the way back up?! This is when the group becomes divided into encouraging the driver to go ahead when he warned them it was dangerous. Mikage then tells everyone to give their money to him. Since they are going to start a new life, they are not going to use the currency anymore. He hopes the driver will be happy and not rat out on this village. Otherwise they will testify he stole their money and abandoned them. Nanaki Village is just walking distance away so everyone starts trekking. Mitsumune wants to help Masaki but Hayato warns about his habit of falling in love easily. Lion thinks the guys are dating since they are so close but Mitsumune clarifies that Hayato is his best friend and always saved him from being bullied. The group is scared when they see huge bear treks so they make haste till they arrive at the village. Everyone is happy to arrive but something feels odd. It feels like the entire place is abandoned and not a single soul around. They split up in groups to get more clues and ascertain this is the correct village. From the dust piling up and rusted things, it is probably abandoned for a year. They start theorizing if the villagers abandoned it or all died or being executed. Maimai seems to flirt with Mitsumune. But when he is relieved that he didn’t fall for her, she takes it as an insult. Too late to apologize. Everyone is shocked when the bus driver returns. He thinks he needs to watch the kids as an adult but they think he decides to abandon his lousy life and join them. Nanko and Mikage then question Koharun. If Nanaki Village is said to be a village that cannot be located, how did she find the place? Koharun claims she has been doing intensive research and even visited sites but all were duds. One day she got a mysterious email that detailed this location. Of course that email is in her laptop and she didn’t bring it since there is no signal and wouldn’t need it. Mikage finds that unbelievable. Suddenly Valkana and his group rush back. It seems Masaki and Yottsun have vanished.

Episode 3
Everyone goes to look for Yottsun but couldn’t find him. Puuko’s scream alerts everyone. There is a huge claw mark with blood on the tree. Time to freak out. They hear growling noises too. As they run, Mitsumune trips. That’s where he sees Masaki cowering in fear by a tree. She is interrogated as she recounts Yottsun wanted to bring her somewhere. Then he spotted something and left by himself. Since he didn’t return, she tried to look for him and slipped. She couldn’t remember the rest. Many do not believe her story but Mitsumune stands up for her. The group becomes divided if they should leave or stay but unless all of them want to get out of here, the driver won’t leave. Mad Valkana tells off everyone it is this moment they find out who their friends and traitors are. A few guys go help him continue look for Yottsun. Masaki isn’t grateful for Mitsumune sticking up to her. She tells him not to do so again or he will be cut off from the group. Hayato tells Mitsumune to stop sucking up to her. It’s that I-told-you-so talk again and all Mitsumune have to do is listen to what Hayato says to avoid getting bullied. After the rest assign sleeping quarters, they go get some food. There is a vegetation farm nearby and oddly it feels as though they’ve been tended to properly till yesterday. Hyouketsu blames Jack for his overlapping character and initiates a silly argument. This has Jack returning with a hoe and tries to kill him! Luckily he is restrained and tied up. It is then Maimai recognizes Jack as her old classmate. Rumour had it that he had an attitude problem and stabbed a classmate. He was sent away for juvenile detention. Some are calling him to be executed but Valkana shows them a secret underground prison cell which he found where they can put Jack for the time being. Koharun believes Valkana is taking this too responsibly although his reply is that he doesn’t want to be made a scapegoat. Valkana reveals he was a freelance engineer and was made a scapegoat by the company when his system failed. Koharun believes he doesn’t want to be alone. Otherwise he wouldn’t have joined this tour and ignore all interpersonal relationships. That night when Mitsumune can’t sleep and makes his way to Jack’s prison, he sees Maimai. Lovepon thinks they are going to execute Jack and she eagerly wants to help. She becomes crazy when they’re not as she talks about nipping the problem in the bud or tragedy will befall everyone. She then tries to kill Mitsumune by drowning him. He manages to escape but sees a corpse floating ahead.

Episode 4
Everyone returns to the river trying to find Yottsun’s body but could it be Mitsumune just imagined things? Because it is dark and the scary roar in the background, everyone returns to the village to discuss if there was a bear or a tiger or whatever lurking around. Mikage suggests leaving this place since it is too dangerous but Masaki disagrees that they are safer here than going back. She doesn’t know why but she feels so. In the end, Mikage and many decide to leave tomorrow. Only a handful remain. Hayato is not pleased Mitsumune wants to stay and the friends argue and part their ways. That night, Mikage talks to Valkana that Yottsun’s killer might be among them. Somebody trying to live out his/her dream of becoming a mass murderer. He suspects Koharun as she knew the place and wasn’t initially on the tour bus. She might be in cahoots with the previous villagers. He also feels Masaki knows something and won’t tell them. Mikage’s group try to push the bus out but it is still dark. They can’t go back to the village now as it will be dark and dangerous then. So they start trekking as far as they can before the sun sets. As they trek and map their progress, things seems to be going great for some time until they realize they are back to where they started. They followed the map accurately but something feels off. It gets scarier when the roar is louder and they get a jump scare when they see Jack in a distance (it was briefly shown his prison cell is empty). Hyouketsu fears he is here to kill him and runs but slips. Since the driver is acting suspicious, Valkana and Koharun tail him. They see him trying to call out to somebody but nab him. Mitsumune thought he could get closer to Masaki and tells his real name. It’s Mitsumune. Instead, she cried. Huh? Mikage’s group almost drop into the abyss but spots an old rail line. Following it leads to a tunnel. But then they see the scariest sh*t ever. What’s this about a large Mitsumune Maimai saw?! Koharun and Valkana interrogate the driver of who he was looking for. Misato. His daughter who died 10 years ago.

Episode 5
The driver adds he wants to take Misato home with him. Just then Mikage’s group makes it back to the village. After checking the cell and confirming Jack is gone, everyone starts discussing about Hyouketsu who fell off the cliff. They can’t even remember this dude’s name! Mikage starts making his accusations to everyone when everyone is being inconsistent with their stories of the roar. That is when Lion freaks out. She points out Mitsumune is a ghost! Wait. What?! She saw him vanished for a while! She says she has the ability to see dead people. The driver becomes desperate in wanting to confirm Misato. That is when Mikage and co get even more suspicious and want to know more about it. Lovepon insists on executing Mitsumune and Maimai as she accuses them of freeing Jack. But since everyone is tired, it is suggested everyone hits the sack. Mitsumune thanks Maimai for standing up for him but she insists she is doing it or else she will be suspected too. Mikage, Lovepon, Jigoku and Nyanta discuss the suspicious people and plan to capture one of them to interrogate. A few girls sweet talk Mitsumune into helping to guard their quarters while they sleep. Lovepon, Jigoku and Nyanta are waiting to take him down when Lion comes to talk to Mitsumune. He praises her supernatural power but she reveals it was a lie and took advantage of him. Because the situation was getting out of hand and people were being stupid arguing over stupid things. Mitsumune is impressed and allows her to use him in such cases but she is not impressed with his goody two shoes nature of accepting and playing along with everyone. What Lion didn’t say is that she can see people who are going to die. Once Mitsumune is alone, the trio nab him. In the cell, Lovepon can’t wait to torture him. But they smell fire and escape. Masaki returns to help cut Mitsumune loose. There is something she needs to talk to him about. Suddenly there is this giant monster appearing before Mitsumune whom he recognizes as Tokimune.

Episode 6
Lovepon runs off by herself. She sees a demon mask haunting her! Flashback reveals a depraved monk used to visit her mom. In return for money to clear her debts, she offered sex and alcohol (the brand is a demon mask). Lovepon didn’t like how she also abused her mom so one day she put the bottle on the stairs to make him trip and fall down. The monk then started beating her while she screams execution. When the rest look for Lovepon, now Nyanta sees her fears. Though the rest sees nothing, Nyanta runs away when a zombie hornet is on her tail! Her story tells she was bullied by her classmates. To get her little thrill of revenge, she bought an airsoft gun and sniped at them. It was all fun till she was caught. The bullies tie her up under a hornet’s nest and started shooting at it. Now it’s Jigoku’s turn. He is running away from a gel monster?! It was his dream to join the rangers and posted his solitary training online. Though, many panned how stupid he was. To make up for his required height, he put a breast gel on his head. He failed to get in. What about Mikage? He is telling all those laughter to stop. He was in charge of promoting some toy train. He was very confident about it although the executives were cautious and don’t want to end up embarrassed with a big failure. Mikage dared gamble it will be successful so they put their trust in him. On event day, the toy trains didn’t arrive because of a simple error he made in the delivery date. No doubt Mikage got chewed out and everyone laughed at him. So now a demon train is after his ass?! The rest heard gun sounds in the forest and go look for the missing ones. They manage to round up Lovepon, Nyanta and Jigoku but all give different accounts of their stories. It confuses everyone. Koharun starts singing the nursery song and analyzes how it is all related to this. She then shows them an article on Masaki. She went missing many years ago at Yanagase Village which is the village they passed before entering Nanaki Village. They fear she might be a ghost.

Episode 7
Mitsumune had another twin brother, Tokimune. Both are like day and night. Mitsumune was neat and nice while the other was messy and naughty. Tokimune was playing dangerously on a wall when he fell off. Mom was not able to accept his death and started going crazy. She sees Mitsumune as Tokimune and the entire family has no choice but to play along. This goes on long enough till he is in high school. She became very protective of him and before Mitsumune knows it, he became Tokimune. That is why he joined this tour to live as himself. So a reason Mitsumune liked Masaki was because she was the first person who really liked his real name. She brings him to the tunnel, a place that could leave Nanaki Village. However she warns him she must confront his inner enemy and she will be waiting at the other side. She notes his hand is the warmest among the rest. Mitsumune is paralyzed in fear as he sees the giant penguin toy he calls Tokimune. Masaki just ran right through it. Unfortunately Mitsumune is too chicken to face it. But he received a punch in the guy! So is the monster real?! He runs back to the village. Mikage chides everyone for not wanting to talk about the monsters because they always avoided the subject. Everyone concludes that Masaki is a ghost bringing monsters here to kill them. Many are afraid to deal with the monsters. Maimai explains she and her best friend fell in love with the same guy. He looked similar to Mitsumune (hence, that giant Mitsumune). When she started dating him, her best friend shunned her. Her other friends turned against her and eventually she was dumped. Therefore she is not going back to society. This gives everyone hope to kill the monsters so they can continue staying here. This means they must kill Masaki. When Mitsumune wanders back into the village, everyone plays nice with him to get more details. After he tells them what happened, he is quickly put to bed. The others are getting ready to exorcise the ghost. Stakes? Cross? Salt? You think these would work? As they wait for her at the tunnel, Masaki pops up. Lion and Nanko are the only ones against this witch hunt as they go warn Mitsumune. Masaki is tied at the stake and tortured. Lovepon is obsessed about killing her but this is where many draw the line. They can’t just stab her. Hayato then does the honours to stab her as he blames her for seducing and brainwashing Mitsumune. In his haste, he cuts her arm. It’s bleeding. Do ghosts bleed? Mitsumune is not happy to see this and punches Hayato. Hayato is still bent on killing her so Masaki can’t bear to see Mitsumune suffer anymore and will tell everything.

Episode 8
Masaki has been to this village before. She followed her cousin, Reiji to find this place. He was so happy to find it that he couldn’t stop taking pictures and couldn’t wait to report this to his friends. He could have continued snapping had not Masaki reminded him it is getting late. As they leave, Reiji saw some kind of monster and ran back. Masaki saw nothing. Masaki slipped and fell unconscious. The next thing she knew, she was lying on the road. Each time she tried to climb back up, there was no village. Therefore she came on this tour to save Reiji but couldn’t find him. Everyone is startled when she mentions that there might be other villages like this but she isn’t exactly sure. As for the tunnel, she tells everyone not to go there and has a bad feeling about it. Although she went through it, she turned back halfway. But everyone still don’t believe her because she is the only one who hasn’t seen any monsters and the inconsistency in her story that she never went back home but lived in a nearby village to work part time until she chanced upon this tour. They show her the article. Because if she lived there using her real name and the article came out nationwide, don’t you think it is inconsistent? While Mitsumune protects her again, the rest are back to lynching her. Suddenly the bus driver swoops by in his bus (how the heck did he manage to get it unstuck?) and kidnaps Masaki and Mitsumune. Hayato’s shirt gets stuck in its door. Everyone plans to stop the driver before he leaves the area. But Koharun and Nanko deduce something odd from Masaki’s story. She is different from the rest of them who has not seen monsters is it because she has no psychological scar? Is it why she could run away? The driver is desperate thinking Masaki is a ghost and wants her to call Misato. Of course she isn’t. Koharun observes Valkana joining in this witch hunt. Ever since Masaki become prime suspect, everyone forgot she was a suspect. He claims he doesn’t believe everyone and was fooled to thinking he could lead a new life here. But if he is going to live here forever, he needs to know this village better and Masaki knows this place the best. As they duo make their way, they are attacked by stone arrows. They know they’re not hallucinating as they both see the same thing. Guess who is attacking them? Hyouketsu?!

Episode 9
As Valkana pins him down, Hyouketsu is still terrified and claims he was rescued by that person and just doing as told. Valkana then chases after a shady figure in the distance. The driver thinks driving through the tunnel will let him see Misato again. Stepping on the accelerator, Mitsumune sees Tokimune chasing behind and Hayato sees a zombie hand on the window! When the driver sees Misato in the mirror, he steps on the brakes. The rest exit to bus for fresh air. By the time they return, the driver is gone. At the end of the tunnel, there seems to be another village but the entire place is covered in fog. There is also a stone written supposedly by Reiji leaving a message to Masaki if she wants to go any further, accept Nanaki. She doesn’t understand what it means but has a bad feeling if they stay. Hayato wants to continue looking around and says she can look for Reiji too. If anything turns for the worse, they can always go back. After Masaki excuses herself to go to the toilet, the guys try to get a bird’s eye view of the place but it is foggy. Hayato is not pleased Mitsumune again stands by Masaki’s side. He tells him off he is not the only one with problems. In fact, his overprotective mom is better than his. Hayato’s fear is his grandma in the attic. Since young, his parents tried to groom him into an ideal child since they were living in a posh area and wanted to keep a reputation among the community. The slightest mistake he made, he was beaten and worse, thrown into the attic where a creepy picture of grandma was. He believed she was a victim too, having thrown inside here before her passing to avoid rumours of a senile old granny wandering around to ruin their reputation. Hayato did try to fight back to no avail. He resigned to live his life as their puppet till he met Mitsumune. He got a taste of freedom. As long he is his puppet, everything will be alright. Mitsumune is shocked at this truth despite he is always grateful for listening to him. Hayato wants things to stay as it is but Mitsumune won’t be deceived anymore and leaves. As he looks for Masaki, he only finds her ribbon. Then he bumps into Valkana who also wandered here. They start seeing their monsters. Valkana’s a slime monster? Mitsumune slides down a slope. Now he hears his mother’s voice. Meanwhile Nanko and Lion want to use Maimai as guinea pig. To rid of the monsters, they must overcome their mental scars. So they try to take her into the tunnel to test this theory when they are attacked by Jack. Luckily somebody punches him out.

Episode 10
Mitsumune finds himself in hospital. His dad is also there and is glad he is alive. We can see dad went through a lot of stress ever since Tokimune’s death. He tried to erase Mitsumune’s name at one point but just couldn’t do it. He tells his son to live the way he wants. Meanwhile Mikage is furious that everyone has lost interest to find Masaki. They don’t even care about it anymore. Maybe they’re tired? Some are even having a change in character. They turn on Mikage since he is acting like their leader when he is not. Enraged, Mikage goes off by himself as the rest laugh at his destiny thingy. Lion, Nanko and Maimai are brought to Reiji’s place. He can’t go with them back to the village and when he sounds like he can’t reciprocate Masaki’s love, Maimai gets upset. As Reiji brings them along, Lion is surprised Nanko and Maimai believe her that she can see people who are about to die. It seems she is some sort of fortune teller or at least that was how it supposed to be. When an angry customer called her a fraud because she bought an expensive charm to save her husband but failed, Lion was confused but her mother didn’t really bother much with it because you know, it’s all part of business. A bird’s eye view of Nanaki Village, Reiji fears the place is changing shape again. Seems he can see someone else’s monster. Because of a past so complicated, it materializes in the form of a monster. He warns them to tell their friends to get out no matter what and when Nanaki attacks, you must endure its pain. They don’t think it will be easy since the rest are bent on staying.

Mitsumune goes up the hospital roof to find… Yottsun?! He recounts he saw Nanaki while he was going to have fun with Masaki. Before he knew it, he slipped from a cliff and plunged into the river. God saved him. God? This old professor named Kamiyama. Kami, get it? Yottsun is chirpy because Kamiyama told him everything and his eyes are opened. It seems Nanaki is a term used to describe the monster of your past. Kamiyama explains he has been to Nanaki Village before and has been doing research on it. Kamiyama specializes in psychology so when he discovered this village, he was excited. He did research and presented it but was soon ridiculed. His supporters eventually left him. Sad and upset, he went to Nanaki Village and at first was thrilled to be living all by himself. And then he stumbled upon the monster. It was he evidence he had always been looking. When he tried to take a picture, he suddenly returned back to civilization. Just that easy. Because he lost Nanaki. His Nanaki was the research ridiculed by everyone. So when he proved it right, it also disappeared, cutting him off from the monster. Mitsumune thinks it is a good ending for him but is made to look closer at a photo of Kamiyama’s younger self. That photo was only taken 3 years ago! As Nanaki contains the psychological scar of the past, it also contains your soul, emotions and ultimately yourself. Losing Nanaki means losing yourself and when Kamiyama lost his, his body started aging rapidly. The scariest part is when you cut yourself from those psychological wounds, you’ll eventually stop functioning as a proper human. Speaking of which, some of the group members are feeling lethargic. Jack and Hyouketsu return to base. The letter is scared for failing his mission. He pleads to boss not to abandon him. Their boss turns out to be Koharun.

Episode 11
The driver sees Misato and begs for forgiveness. Valkana returns to the village and is pissed everyone is lethargic. Even when Maimai’s group return and tell what Reiji told them, they’re still too lazy to move. Even more so, they don’t care when Jack and Hyouketsu start shooting fire arrows. The sane ones go to confront them but Maimai and Lion become their hostages. Hyouketsu’s blabbermouth has him revealing Koharun as the ringleader. It seems she is trying to make the monster stronger and these guys believe they could help her as she told them they were special. At first Koharun wanted to use Valkana she thinks he is just honest and a coward. Speaking of her, Koharun meets Hayato who is on the verge of going insane thinking Mitsumune has run away with Masaki. Koharun pours more fuel on the fire by mentioning Masaki’s name and how she torn their years of friendship apart. This makes him go crazy and a large hideous monster pops up. Koharun notes it is growing. Kamiyama drives Mitsumune and Yottsun back to the village but he tells there are certain conditions to be met to enter it. The reason Kamiyama stayed behind is to warn others not to enter but it seems when the tour bus came that night, he was asleep. Mitsumune wonders why Yottsun didn’t age like Kamiyama. Yottsun recalls when he was floating adrift and staring death in the face, all he could think was his musician parents. He didn’t want to become a pro in classical music like them but a rapper. And make it big too. But he realized he couldn’t. As he drowns, he hit an inspiration. The lyrics come to his mind. He realizes he always wanted to be a rapper even if he doesn’t make it big. In short, Yottsun accepted his Nanaki unlike Kamiyama left his behind. Although he doesn’t hate, sometimes he could feel regrets. Mitsumune cannot see Nanaki Village anymore and Kamiyama deduces he doesn’t have enough psychological scars.

The driver knows Misato is his Nanaki. He reconciles with her and despite feeling very hurt, he hugs her and believes she is the one who is most hurt as his carelessness was the source of her death. He will not deny he has lost her anymore. This is when Reiji pops up. He believes the driver has accepted his Nanaki and has a favour of him. Mitsumune laments he can’t get back into the village when the bus suddenly pops out from nowhere almost hitting them. They see Misato for real as the driver introduces her as his Nanaki. Misato claims she isn’t the only Nanaki that can talk (as others seen so far were monsters) but Reiji too. It is time to say goodbye so Misato is glad her dad came to terms with his daughter even if the one before him is fake. She might not be able to talk to him anymore but will always be in his heart. In a blink of an eye, Misato vanishes. When the driver says Reiji told him to help Mitsumune back into the village to save Masaki (Reiji even confirmed he is Masaki’s Nanaki), it makes Mitsumune sad to think how much Masaki cared for him and since she is so desperate to save him, she doesn’t realize he is her Nanaki. That Reiji doesn’t exist in reality. The driver will send him back as he drives straight into the darkness. When the bus reaches back into the village, he is missing so Mitsumune is forced to take the steering. Masaki is still finding Reiji and sad she hasn’t been successful. Suddenly Mikage and Lovepon catch her. They are going to kill her for real as they blame her for tearing them all apart. The bus appears out of nowhere, almost ramming into them. Mitsumune is back. But don’t look now, there is a huge monster ahead!

Episode 12
Since Hayato pops up, everyone could guess this grandma Nanaki is his. Even more shocking, Nanaki is under Hayato’s control. Hayato is brainwashed and mad as he continues blaming Masaki for taking away his only friend. Then Mitsumune’s fine speech makes Hayato even more confused. He wants to be his equal. He wants to be his friend who can be there when he is in pain. Unfortunately, the confusion rises because Koharun is trying to convince Hayato not to listen to them and insists he is being deceived. This time the Nanaki goes berserk and is going to kill them all. As Hayato injured his leg, Mitsumune carries him as they make a run. Koharun picks up the walkie-talkie Mitsumune dropped. Kamiyama is trying to contact Mitsumune. It is revealed Koharun is Kamiyama’s daughter and she is doing all this in hopes of reversing her dad’s aging by finding his Nanaki. He realizes she was the one who drugged him that night. Reiji overheard her and corrects her thinking that by provoking a Nanaki she could amplify a fading trauma and prevent a Nanaki from vanishing. She is wrong because Nanaki is inseparable from oneself. Kamiyama is fine with the way things are now but not Koharun. She has always looked up to him as a researcher. Inside the tunnel when Mitsumune can go no more further, Hayato now stands his ground. He always thought he was helping Mitsumune but realized he was the one being helped. As he faces his Nanaki, they both disappear. Reiji explains Hayato has accepted his Nanaki and has returned to the real world. Masaki is happy to see Reiji again but he tells her to take a good look at herself. Masaki was always lonely and wanted a friend. And so Reiji was created as her imaginary friend. He was always with her and gave her solace. Masaki cannot accept this and runs away. Reiji tells Mitsumune to go after her while he tells the truth to the rest. Long ago, Masaki always called Reiji’s name whenever she is in pain. But recently she has started to call a different name: Mitsumune.

When he finally catches up with her, they see a shy cute ribbon critter. WTF?! Is this Mitsumune’s new Nanaki? Masaki comes clean with him that because it would look weird in front of others to have an imaginary friend, she started pretending Reiji couldn’t be seen in front of others. Reiji was also in a way made to say things she wanted to hear. She thought by coming to Nanaki Village she could be with him together. Reiji is back at the village with the rest (Jack and Hyouketsu were easily defeated by Valkana and Nanko). Although he tells what is happening, some don’t really care. A Nanaki’s roar is heard in the background. Reiji reminds them that they should know by now that as long as they don’t leave the village, they’ll be safe. Because the Nanaki who is part of them feels scared of being left behind. Remember, all of them ran away to start a new life. This means rejecting their past selves. Thus Nanaki are being rejected by themselves and not by anyone else. Everyone start to realize that each has their own hardship and believed only themselves was having a hard time. They were all just the same and easier to believe everyone around is having a great time. When Masaki accepts Mitsumune, she feels Reiji back in her heart. This means Reiji suddenly vanished before everyone’s eyes. Masaki returns to the real world and Mitsumune promises he will soon follow suit. The group is still divided to stay or leave. While a big majority want to go back, some feel they want to remain here as there feel reality is no different. The small who group who chose to remain include Koharun, Valkana, Lion, Hyouketsu and Jack. Those who left find themselves back on the bus (including Hayato, Mitsumune and Masaki). The bus makes its way across the bridge.

Lost Souls, Lost Plot
Despite the less than stellar reviews and not so forgiving criticisms from many about this series, honestly I find this quite interesting and intriguing. At least for the initial episodes till I suspected what Nanaki actually was, it started to go a little downhill. And then with that kind of ‘ending’, I think the slope went a little steeper. I am not saying that this is actually a bad anime or do I agree with those who really want their drama mystery to be oh so perfect. But it could have been a little better. How? Don’t ask me, I’m not the script writer. Hah! Trying to pass the buck here. In a nutshell, this anime is pretty decent and slightly better than the average but as the series nears its end and once the mysterious Nanaki is known, things started to get a little lukewarm.

Now, with about 30 characters in the series, you can either say it is a hit or miss. It is both mixed feelings for me. But you have got to agree that while some get more prominent screen time and even a little peek at their tragic back story, the rest felt like as though they were there just to make up the numbers. Heck, I don’t even remember some of their names till the end. Sometimes I feel that these lesser characters can be done without and that it wouldn’t really add anything to the plot or advance the story. Like a certain fatty who only loves to eat – what was his name again? It’s just slipping my mind… Something along the lines of Doraemon… And there is a pair of love birds eloping together who would make single otakus into jealousy rage because of how lovey-dovey they are that it makes you have goosebumps… Oh, I remember there is a cutie idol trying to get away from a stalker and thus on this tour. No you don’t remember? Fine. Not that she mattered anyway.

So as I said they were there to make up for the numbers because you know, it gives you an impression that this would be some sort of horror survival series. I mean, logically that is how I would think. The only reason why there would be so many cast of characters in a small group and given the setting is a mysterious isolated village, you’d be inclined to start thinking that some sort of evil force is going to pick them off one by one. And here I was, trying to even make a guess on who is next to go missing and be presumed dead. And guess what? Nobody died!!! So when supposedly presumed dead characters come back to live, you would think that it is a cheap and lazy twist but then again if you go back, those characters weren’t confirmed dead in the first place. We just assumed. So at least when we have a reasonably large number of people, our odds of suspecting somebody would be less as the suspicion will be spread out. It would be easier to pinpoint a culprit in a group of 5 compared to 30 people, right?

As for the main characters like Mitsumune and Masaki, despite getting a lot of coverage and in fact more than the rest, somehow I couldn’t feel a little disappointed when the supposed big revelation about them especially Masaki is revealed. Although everyone is a worthy suspect, it is as though the producers were trying to make us think and pinpoint there is more than meets the eyes to Masaki. The way she acts is strange and she can’t really explain herself properly, which leads to her being suspected the most. There were a few mind boggling actions from her as well especially when she tells everyone not to go beyond the tunnel but refuses to say what it is. Does she know or does she not? So it makes her all more suspicious but in the end when her revelation came to light, you wonder what that all was for. Was she just trolling us just to find Reiji? I just don’t understand. Of course being the cutest girl in the group, she can’t be the baddie, can she? And Reiji felt like a convenient plot just to end the story. Why the heck didn’t he show up earlier and save them from this despair?

Then we have Mitsumune as one of those main characters who is of the weak type. I don’t know. Sometimes he just annoys me. Maybe it is the way he always protects and stands up for Masaki despite not knowing what is wrong. Sure, it is a good thing not to jump to conclusion or to have a herd mentality but it makes him seem like he has a crush on her and she must be right in some way and thus the need to save her from being turned on by the group. Well, it is a good thing that he was right in a way because had Masaki be the ‘antagonist’, it would truly be a big slap in the face and a moment of WTF. Really.

The rest of the so called main characters (my presumption they have more screen time and impact than the rest) are also a mixed baggage. Like this Valkana dude who is so full of angst like as though he could explode any minute and his fist will start flying faster than the words coming out from his mouth. Turns out he isn’t such a bad guy after all despite his angry outlook and loud outburst at times. Though he is most prominent in the initial episodes, he starts ‘fading’ when Mikage starts to become the unofficial leader in trying to lead the group to persecute Masaki. Again, this guy also has lots of anger but he doesn’t show it on the outside like Valkana. Lastly, Hayato or Speedstar as his alias is known by others in the group feels like the catalyst to end it all because of his insecurity that his best friend-cum-puppet won’t listen to him anymore. I wanted to insert some gay jokes between them but it just doesn’t seem to fit (that wasn’t a gay joke). And there you have it, with Hayato going crazy about Masaki and making Mitsumune into a straight guy, he sets off the final epic monster boss battle that has one defeating it by just accepting it all. That easy, huh? And Lovepon is a crazy yandere character whose favourite word seems to be screaming “Execution!”. I think this takes up half her dialogue lines.

I had my suspicions on Koharun too. Because she seems to be getting more screen time than Dahara as the tour guide and she was seen to be interacting more with Valkana as the series’ passes. Again, I don’t understand about her mission to create a Nanaki to save her father and thus she experimented with the group on it. Because of that, it helped contribute to my little disappointment as how the series ended and the supposed big revelation that was to be. Not too sure if in the future she will be bringing another set of unsuspecting people to the village since she isn’t giving up on her father yet. And it is like Hyouketsu and Jack’s existence in this series is to be her lackey. Jack could have been the most dangerous character seeing he is the silent type and nobody knows what is on his mind but look at how he turns out. Yeah, we just don’t care anymore.

Speaking of the revelation that was Nanaki, maybe this is one reason why many felt disappointed with the series. Even when it is confirmed what Nanaki may actually be, I too somewhat started to feel like that. I don’t know. Maybe I was hoping for some sort of legendary monster from another world? Who’d knew that Nanaki was the fear of your past that is coming to haunt you and preventing you from leaving the village. Just like Hotel California, you can check in anytime you like but you can’t check out or ever leave. I have already had a faint guess of what Nanaki was halfway through when the group started to give different accounts of what they saw and heard. Because logically if everyone sees and hears differently, it could only be that something personal that would only allow that particular person to experience. Thus when the truth of Nanaki was revealed, it wasn’t really shocking. I just felt a bit letdown.

The only other mind boggling thing was about Nanaki Village itself. What bugged me was, were there other similar people who lived here? For how long then? More importantly, what happened to them? Will they just disappear into thin air when they lose their personality? Because it is hinted that some places in the village had people living just like yesterday and up to a year, it just boggled me how are there people living there and then suddenly vanished without a trace. They couldn’t have left because their Nanaki would have kept them in. My only theory is that Nanaki Village is cut off from our current time flow. It exists in its own time and space. The last batch of people who were here may look like they visited the place years ago but Nanaki Village, it might have been just yesterday as far as the village is concerned. After all, who knows how many similar villages are there in the first place and could it also be that for all those who chose to remain live in the same area but just in a different time flow? What I mean is that the previous batch there might be those who stayed back and they are still around but we can’t see them because they are existing in a different dimension. Therefore I am intrigued about those who stayed back. What will happen to them? And for those who went back to reality, what will happen to them too after they experienced this? A short follow up would be welcoming but I highly doubt anybody would be interested since it won’t make a difference to the overall story whatsoever.

In the end, it isn’t whether it is right or wrong for those who stay or leave. They have made a decision to move on with their choice. I am assuming those who leave have accepted their Nanaki and thus the reason why they are able to get out. It means they are willing to face reality and society once more for better or worse. I am not sure for those who remained have vanquished their Nanaki because perhaps it doesn’t matter to them as long as they don’t get out, they won’t be in danger of facing their Nanaki. They too have decided a new life in this new direction as they believe they will not have any real chance whatsoever back in society anymore.

The interesting and subtle concept this series explored is the fact all of these youngsters wanted to restart their life again for the better. It just shows that today’s generation are so vulnerable that they could be hurt by mere words and offended by everything. Heh… But the point is that everyone has their own hardships. Nobody goes through life like a bed of roses. Well, maybe those super spoilt rich kids who get all their wealth from their dads. While some of the tragic back stories we see are truly heartbreaking, it makes you wonder if life was that hard to have them make this decision to abandon reality and society. At first we might call it stupid and silly but it is not funny when it happens to you. So in a subtle way, this series might be just telling us that with everyone having their own set of problems, the only person who can overcome and defeat it (and at most accept it) is only yourself. Because if you don’t, your past will always come back to haunt you. Forever. Only when you bury the past, you can only move forward.

The other interesting thing seen is the interaction of a group of people living together. This is like Survivor material where alliances are formed and as slippery as shifting sand. We quickly see who the leaders and who are the followers are, the sane ones and the crazy ones. There are all kinds of interesting and shady characters even for a small group like this. But sadly this series doesn’t delve more on this human behaviour and psychology aspect because it would be really interesting to see everyone’s clashing personalities and even a herd mentality and so called democratic majority just to save their own asses especially when they are dealing with the unknown and that is where all your stereotype beliefs make you think crazy things. Towards the end, it feels somewhat lazy as it feels like the producers got lazy and said, “Ah, f*ck all of it!” and then turn most of the characters into lethargic people who seem like they are high on drugs. Don’t fight and resist it. Come join us. It feels so good…

Art and drawing are pretty decent but I thought some of the older characters look like high school kids like Valkana and Mikage. Their past shows they are already working in the adult world and yet when I looked at them at first, I thought they were still in high school. Thus I thought the only real adult here is the driver since he is definitely the oldest of the lot. At first, the Nanaki scares me because of how creepy they look like. Especially those surreal eyes over them. But then when I get to know what Nanaki was and how each of them is tailored to the characters’ past, it wasn’t that creepy anymore. Other than that, the sceneries and backgrounds are rather okay but sometimes there are a few scenes where it gets too dark to see anything. Maybe it is for the jump scare effect but I don’t recall having being frightened out of it although I did maintain my alertness. Phew.

The opening theme is rock based, Gensou Drive by Ami Wajima while the ending theme is Ketsuro by Rina Katahira. After the suspense of the episode, I find it a bit odd that the ending theme is such a slow and lovely acoustic ballad. Maybe after all that mystery and drama, you need a relaxing song to calm your nerves down? I also find it a bit odd that the mugs of the characters grace the ending credits animation. I suppose everyone will have their fair share since 3 characters will be featured in one episode for this part. Yeah, guarantee that no 2 ending credits animation will be the same!

Overall, personally this is an interesting series as the mystery in the initial episodes keeps you glued and guessing what is behind it all. But with many weak characters and a weak ending to boot (everyone is divided to either stay or leave and nobody died!!!), maybe this will be your Nanaki of disappointment after what started out as something with promising only to end up in an unexciting manner. It would be just freaking scary to see anime characters haunting you whenever you feel like you have grown up and wanting to take more responsibilities, ditching the anime life only to have this sort of Nanaki trapping you back in and continuing your uneventful otaku life. Maybe that is why I have never managed to break out from my otaku lifestyle over more than a decade ago… I’m truly lost in a world of my own… Well, it’s not a bad thing so far :-).

Thanks to my little stint in the survival genre especially the interesting and astonishing (albeit not perfect) Mirai Nikki, it was only a matter of time that I decided to dabble in another anime of the similar genre. After all, I already did mention in that blog of some of the anime titles of this genre that I would be interested to look at and it is no surprise that now I find myself drawn to watch Umineko No Naku Koro Ni. Without spoiling so much, it is about a family gathering that is more than just discussing about the distribution of the family’s head’s wealthy assets. The dying patriarch seems to be obsessed in reviving his dead lover believed to be a witch and the main ingredients of resurrecting a witch is, you guessed it, sacrifice. With the deadly storm entrapping the family on the island, they are forced to fend themselves in a battle that hovers between fantasy and reality.

Episode 1: Opening
Kinzou Ushiromiya has about 3 months to live. He seems to be desperate for Beatrice’s smile and would return everything just to have that again. The other Ushiromiya family members gather on their private island, Rokkenjima for their annual family gathering. We are introduced to several characters of the family from uncles and aunties (Krauss, Hideyoshi, Rudolf, Eva, Kyrie, Natsuhi, Rosa) to young relatives and cousins (Battler, Jessica, George, Maria) to the servants (Chiyo Kumasawa, Genji Ronoue, Kanon, Shannon, Toshiro Gouda). There is a big portrait that Battler notices. She is Beatrice the Witch. Their grandpa and family head Kinzou believes in the existence of witches. Family history reveals that the Ushiromiya was a prosperous family owning many mills till the great earthquake wiped everything out and killed many of the family members. Kinzou was tasked in rebuilding everything and he used his wealth and extreme luck to turn the tables around to make the family prosperous again. It is rumoured that he made a contract with Beatrice to sell his soul in exchange for 10 tonnes of gold which is equivalent to 20 billion Yen. Battler thinks it is a whole lot of bull but Maria really believes in it. Meanwhile the adults are beginning to talk about money and inheritance. Something about embezzlement of funds and it ends with Natsuhi being berated by Eva due to some family status thingy. The siblings try to gang up on Krauss and make him agree to their several conditions in exchange to let him handle the distribution of the assets. But Krauss knows a bit of their other shady dealings and shuts them up. Unfortunately he has no money to help them and suggests they solve Beatrice’s epitaph instead. Maria gives a scorpion pendant as protection against Beatrice. Then they try to find her marked rose lost in the garden. Because she is making a very irritating noise, her mom Rosa tells her to shut up and since she remains persistent, she slaps her! The rest can’t get involved in this personal family problem and furious Rosa just leaves Maria to do as she wishes. A big storm arrives and Kinzou believes Beatrice has come. Time to begin the miraculous banquet. When Maria has not returned, they go find her. Thankfully she is safe but where did she get the umbrella? Beatrice gave it to her.

Episode 2: First Move
Everyone wonders who gave Maria the umbrella if none of the servants did. Then Maria takes out a letter she says Beatrice gave to her to read aloud to everyone. The letter has Kinzou’s seal on it. Maria is somewhat possessed as she reads the letter. It states that the contract with Kinzou has ended and therefore her resignation as special advisor. Thus they must return all the gold she has given and she will also take the family’s wealth. However Kinzou left a special clause as a chance for them to retain their wealth and honour. If they can find the hidden gold, this condition will be revoked and Beatrice will forgo everything that is due to her. This game is open to everyone so not only family members have the right. Of course Kinzou’s children do not agree with this as they have not heard about this and try to reach the patriarch but he locks himself inside his room. Battler’s mom, Kyrie talks to her son about the possible 19th person on this island. If that person wanted to hide his/her anonymity, why go all the trouble to deliver it to Maria? Could it be that Beatrice is one of the 18 just to create an illusion that someone outside the 18 exists? Battler’s dad, Rudolf has something to tell his family but he thinks he will be killed tonight. Krauss shows his wife Natsuhi a gold bar in his possession that Kinzou was believed to have received from Beatrice. The servants are given midnight shifts to guard the guests. There have been romantic trysts between George and Shannon. He gives her an engagement ring and wants her to give a reply by tomorrow.

The next morning, Kanon notices Gouda is not as his station. There are also a few people missing. The phone lines are cut so Genji wakes up Natsuhi. The first shock she sees are blood handprints all over her door. She wants to go see Kinzou so Genji gives her the key to enter his study. Kinzou does not want to be disturbed although he asks her if she longs to be with her old family despite being married into the Ushiromiya for quite some time. She notes her family is the one and only Ushiromiya and will protect the family’s honour and glory. Kinzou replies despite she does not qualify to wear the One Winged Eagle, she has already engraved it in her heart and without a doubt a blood relative, one who will inherit the glory of the family. Genji reports something strange at the garden shed. They see a strange circle like the ones used to summon demons painted all over it. When Genji gets the family doctor, Terumasa Nanjou, the teens see them hurrying away and follow them to the shed. To everyone’s horror, there are 5 dead bodies (Krauss, Rudolf, Kyrie, Gouda and Shannon). Their faces have been ripped off. There is a sixth body at the back (Rosa). Jessica is horrified her dad Krauss is dead while George may be getting the same feeling after seeing a familiar engagement ring on a finger of one of the corpses.

Episode 3: Dubious Move
Hideyoshi asks George the last time he saw Shannon’s face. He remembers her tender smile. He wants him to remember it that way (because certainly he doesn’t want to remember this terrified look before death on her face). The dining hall is also filled with blood and messed up. When they question Maria about the circle. She becomes possessed as she explains about the seventh magic circle of the sun that bestows the power to escape from restraints and gain freedom. As the radio is out, they cannot do anything until the boat arrives tomorrow. This means they are still stuck with the killer on this island. But Maria notes the killer is not human. It is suggested to stick together as they look for Kinzou who is now missing. Battler confirms that there is only one key to the shed and no duplicates. If it was nicely put back to where it was, doesn’t this mean the killer is among one of them and a person who knows this mansion well? Eva then talks to Battler about the possibility the servants may be the culprits and the possibility of more than one. Battler doesn’t think so because why go all the trouble to commit this flashy gruesome murder and put on more suspicions on themselves? Eva is glad over Battler’s calm composure because this means he doesn’t suspect her family. She is the only sibling left and stands to gain the most out of it. But she notes if she was going to commit this crime, she would have done it better and wouldn’t make herself a suspect. Battler talks to the servants about Beatrice. They really believe she exists and has come. Asking about how she looks like, they say she has no form and the portrait is when she takes human form. Before Battler can go crazy, Maria intervenes. She says Battler does not have the same wavelength and that is why he cannot see Beatrice. He is only alive because the scorpion pendant protected him. However he turns the tables that he wasn’t holding it last night and lost it. He still doesn’t believe this witch crap thingy.

Battler then theorizes that the culprit may want to make it look like a witch did it. Although George did theorize that Beatrice might be taking their lives as part of the interest because Kinzou used the gold to build back the empire and thus their lives are connected to it. Battler believes the culprit might be holding Kinzou hostage somewhere and threatening to kill each of the family member unless he reveals the hidden gold. That is why the culprit wants them to find the gold to make it easier for the culprit to steal. When Eva asks who last saw Kinzou, Natsuhi admits and returns the key to Genji. Eva then reveals something. After Natsuhi left the study, she placed a paper between the doors. After they return from the murder scene to find Kinzou. The paper is still there. It means Kinzou has never left. He is missing because Natsuhi killed him and dumped his body outside the window and hide it later. Natsuhi threatens to shoot her for this accusation and Eva dares her. Battler deduces Eva’s theory as wrong. It could have been Kinzou was hiding while they return to look for him and then left the place. Eva disagrees of why Kinzou would do something so odd so Battler points out that Eva did the odd thing too by placing that paper. Jessica wants Eva to prove she didn’t kill everyone last night before doubting her mom. Eva and Hideyoshi retire to their room. Eva admits she always picked on Natsuhi because she hated Krauss since young. When Genji knocks on their door for dinner, there is no answer. Fearing the worst, he opens it with a spare key. A chain prevents the door from opening fully. Kanon returns with a cutter (by this time a pentacle is written on the door with blood). They see Eva dead on the bed and Hideyoshi dead in the bathtub. Both have been stabbed between the forehead.

Episode 4: Blunder
George is devastated his parents are killed. After locking the door, they smell something foul. Kanon goes to investigate the stench originating from the boiler. Battler and Jessica contemplate how the culprit killed Eva and Hideyoshi in this locked room mystery. Maria interjects to say Beatrice did it. This is to show proof that no humans can do it. Each time Maria laughs, Battler knocks her head! As for the pentacle, is supposed to open any unlocked door. Kanon is inside the boiler and calls out to Beatrice that he will be the one to stop her summoning. He gets stabbed in the chest. The rest arrive. Battler thinks the culprit escaped via the doors. He tries to follow but eventually gives up. The foul stench is a corpse in the furnace. It belongs to Kinzou. Genji knows it is him because he has 6 toes on each foot. Also, they notice his family ring is missing. Kanon is treated by Nanjou but looks like he didn’t make it. Jessica is sad because she likes him. At this point, they are assuming the culprit has the master key to all the rooms. Battler even thinks that the culprit may be one of the dead. Because their faces were ripped off, there was no telling if it was them and the corpse might be replaced with a similar one. Feeling they cannot be safe in any room, Genji thinks there is one: Kinzou’s study. Maria points out Beatrice cannot open this door because there is that scorpion symbol on it that blocks her magic. Learning that Natsuhi had one hung from her door, Maria says it is the reason why Beatrice couldn’t get to her. There is a letter from Kinzou that states to glorify his name.

Asking about this Beatrice person if she really exists, Genji reveals she is Kinzou’s lover who died so he might have dabbled in black magic to revive her. Genji also adds that they have no children. Jessica heard that Kinzou donated lots of amount to an establishment for orphans in which he used them as experiments for this ritual. Then it hit Battler about the sacrifice. They go take a look at the epitaph. Currently everything that is stated there has turned out true. At the end, all will die to bring back Beatrice. Could it be that this family gathering is just a big sacrifice? When Maria points a letter from Beatrice on the table, Natsuhi becomes defensive. While pointing her gun at Genji, Chiyo, Nanjou and Maria, she believes one of them is the culprit who placed the letter while the rest were looking at the epitaph. She has Battler read its contents. It states for them to give up any hope of leaving this place. Either she wins or they all win. Natsuhi wants the culprit to confess or she will assume all of them are in cohorts and have them leave the room. Battler then throws his charm to Maria. He lied that he had lost it just to contradict her. After that, Battler notices a drawing on the letter’s next page. Researching it, it shows that it is a sign to deceive and separate others. Looks like they have fallen into the enemy’s trap. Then the phone rings. Natsuhi picks up and hears a girl singing. They leave the room to look for the rest. In a room, the adults are dead and Maria is singing alone at a corner.

Episode 5: Fool’s Mate
I thought everyone would suspect Maria as the killer. But apparently they want to know who killed them. You mean lolis can’t be killers? Maria says it was Beatrice. This has Battler blow his top so George tries a gentler approach. Maria explains that Beatrice came in via her butterfly form and thus locked doors are no hindrance. As Maria was holding the charm, she won’t kill her and instead told her to face the wall and sing. That was all she did. It is then they realize Natsuhi is missing. She has run out and blocked the door. She is calling out to Beatrice and wants to face her. By the time the kids break down the door, Natsuhi is shot in the forehead. She couldn’t have killed herself, could she? Yeah, it’s Beatrice. Maria now praises the Beatrice portrait and now that all the conditions have been fulfilled, Beatrice will revive and nobody will survive. She wants Beatrice to take her to her land of gold. Battler still cannot believe this sh*t. When a gold butterfly appears, Battler shoots it but it only replicates. Battler goes crazy. Maria laughs like crazy. In the end, a letter in a bottle written by Maria reaches some fisherman’s hands. It states she has already died by the time this letter is read and wants whoever reading this to reveal the truth. However the truth behind the island’s mass murder was never revealed until today.

The next scene is suddenly WTF???!!! Everybody is revived???!!! WTF???!!! The kids are discussing how that would be the bad ending if they reach the time limit before exposing the culprit. Apparently they didn’t even try to solve the riddle and were so obsessed in protecting themselves and this is what will happen. As everyone believes in the existence of Beatrice, only Battler still remains stubborn. He thinks they are being lazy to think further of the true culprit. Although he is not saying that one of the family members is the killer, wouldn’t they all like to know who actually killed them? It’s Beatrice, right? Stop saying that name! He throws down the challenge that if they want him to believe in witches, show Beatrice before him. And here she is in the flesh! Unfortunately Battler shifts the goal post. He thinks this is an illusion. They want him to believe so much in the witch that they conjure up this illusion. WTF?! Beatrice finds him interesting that he is the type that won’t believe in their kind if they turn to world upside down. Battler will prove all her supernatural kills are just human tricks. So Beatrice kills off everybody! OMFG! Just because he doesn’t believe in magic, everybody dies again?! Can you believe it? Battler still doesn’t believe this crap! It must be some sort of trick! He takes on her challenge that he will explain everything and will keep denying her existence. Later Beatrice is visited by another witch, Frederica Bernkastel. She has come to observe Beatrice as she has find it interesting that Beatrice started something of interest. Bernkastel hates being bored and she wants to be entertained by watching her. Therefore she will lend her powers not as an ally but to keep herself entertained. So please do not disappoint her.

Episode 6: Middle Game
George is dating Sayo (Shannon’s real name). They think they owe it to magic. Going back in time, we see Shannon smashed some mirror on a shrine cliff and called out to Beatrice to keep her part of the bargain. As Shannon remains a clumsy maid, she gets chided by the adults but George smoothly changes the topic and in a way saves her from further embarrassment. Eva doesn’t like how her son and this maid are getting along fine. So she calls George just to tell him about the marriage meeting. Although it breaks Shannon’s heart hearing this, Eva then whispers to her about George’s fiancée who is of higher status and education and reminds her of her place. Shannon laments before Beatrice’s portrait. The witch appears before her. Knowing of her love problems, she would grant Shannon her wish but in exchange will one request. There is a mirror on the shrine cliff she needs to break. Upon doing so, her powers will be restored. Shannon refuses to do that since the island has been peaceful and doing so will bring about chaos. Beatrice agrees. So is she willing to live this peaceful life forever? She then gives her a butterfly brooch. It is an item that will grant her wish but as long as she doesn’t smash the mirror, this brooch will remain just an ornament. A few years later, Jessica seems envious that Shannon is dating George. Shannon knows about Jessica’s love for Kanon.

Shannon returns the brooch to Beatrice but the latter doesn’t want it. Although Shannon is grateful that her magic made them a couple and that they should put in their own effort in making their love last forever, Beatrice wants her to think of this brooch as a symbol of friendship. Many rely on her but they fail to be grateful after their wish is granted. Beatrice reveals that mirror had some evil sealed inside it by a travelling eastern magician. Although her power hasn’t returned yet, she still can feel a faint existence. Shannon then gives the brooch to Kanon who is not happy to receive something from Beatrice. Shannon then talks to him about Jessica. Kanon visits Shannon’s school to pretend to play her boyfriend. Her friends can’t stop teasing her so she beats them up. Though Kanon hates crowds, he can’t help being mesmerized by Jessica’s singing performance on stage. Is it because the song had stupid yet cute lyrics? Back home when Kanon praises Jessica for her singing, this leads him to mention himself as furniture. He has forgotten his real name and not allowed to have a future or dreams. That is why he is not human like her. He heard from Shannon that she likes him. However love cannot materialize between a human and furniture. That is why he believes the relationship between George and Shannon will fail. He thanks her for thinking him as human. Later Beatrice confronts him that her love charm didn’t work on him so he chides her about playing cupid and is more like a witch who toys with couples’ heart and gives them false hopes. She reminds him her power will rise and she will revive. Then she will control everything on this island and the door to the land of gold will open.

Episode 7: Early Queen Move
Because Maria continues to be annoying and bugging mom to buy a Halloween candy, Rosa slaps and abuses her in the train! Realizing she is being watched, she stops and relents in buying her one. She’s quite the happy kid she is. Now she wants to dress up in a Halloween costume. As Beatrice the witch! Jessica learns from Chiyo about Beatrice who is the other master of this island and one who rules the night. Rokkenjima was once known as Azukishima, which is a corruption of Akujiki. The island was rumoured to be feared by sailors because of the large number of shipwrecks as evil spirits are believed to attach themselves to the island. When all the family members arrive on the island, the scene is paused. Beatrice and Battler are seen talking about how this torturous scene will repeat itself till Battler acknowledges Beatrice exists. But he still denies her and believes this will be her torture till she gives up. The scene resumes with Rosa abusing Maria for being annoying again and speaking about witches. This time she steps and crushes her candy and lets her be. When Kanon tries to console her, it seems she is very much happy that Beatrice is coming. Later when the storm comes, Rosa realizes Maria is missing and rushes back out to find her. She is still standing there, waiting for mama to come back. Rosa regrets her earlier actions but Maria says it is not her fault as she was possessed by an evil witch. Rosa is shocked when Beatrice appears before her. She even fixes Maria’s candy and then gives her a letter that mustn’t be opened now. It is an invitation to the hidden gold. She also gives Maria a letter to be read to the other siblings when they gather at the dinner table. Beatrice then enters the house with Genji leading her. Kyrie passes her and thinks she looks familiar. As Beatrice explains to Battler, unlike last time, she is now placing herself inside the game.

Beatrice talks to Kanon but finds him no fun since he is like a furniture. She then teases to use Shannon as sacrifice because she’ll have lots of regrets if she kills her after her successful romance with George. Kanon objects so Beatrice tells him to kneel and lick her feet if he doesn’t want Shannon to die. Does he have a choice? Later Kanon blames Shannon for her romance regret. Otherwise today would have been the day they will reborn as furniture into humans. Later Beatrice talks and teases Shannon about sparing her life because watching her love life is amusing. However Shannon knowing she likes to entertain herself by playing pranks on others is going to resist all that and that is to ignore her. This only makes Beatrice mad and will kill her. When everyone gathers for dinner, Kyrie asks about the guest. Gouda mentions Beatrice will be having dinner in her own room. This has the siblings shock and start causing riffs among them if Kinzou plans to distribute his wealth to her. They send the kids away with the doctor. Nanjou explains what he knows about Beatrice although he has never met her before. He knows she died long ago and Kinzou might be trying his hands in black magic to revive her. Perhaps her appearance here is for revenge? That night, George gives an engagement ring to Shannon and she gladly accepts it. Kanon doesn’t seem too happy about it. Beatrice shows herself before the siblings and all of them have no choice but to admit and acknowledge her existence.

Episode 8: Weak Square
Kinzou wakes up in the morning and realizes he is not the first sacrifice. So which 6 have been? Rosa and the servants are before the chapel. Weird pentacle is on its door and a message from Beatrice to Maria that this is her Halloween. Genji mentions the only key to this chapel is missing so Rosa goes back to the room where the kids are to find them all safe. Inside her letter is the chapel’s key. When they open the door, the horrifying scene of the other siblings dead at the table with their guts gutted out and stuffed with candy! Beatrice explains to Battler about this move unlike last time, their faces are now pretty clear. Unfortunately the kids enter and see this. Jessica gets worked up believing Beatrice is the culprit. She rushes back to her room but is not in. Making things worse, Beatrice left a letter saying she did it. Jessica is so mad that her asthma kicks up. Kanon takes her back to her room to rest. Beatrice shows herself and teases Kanon being a furniture instead of knowing a girl’s heart. She summons demon butler goats with magical blades. Wait. Kanon also has magical blades to fight them?! He easily defeats them. When Beatrice continues to mock Kanon as a furniture, Jessica objects to all that. She believes Kanon is more human than anything because he came to her rescue. Beatrice decides to kill them both as she summons one of the Seven Sisters of Purgatory, Asmodeus of Lust. She takes on Kanon and when she turns into a piercing tool, Jessica uses her body to protect him. Beatrice now summons another Seven Sisters of Purgatory, Satan of Wrath to kill Kanon. She turns into a piercing tool and strikes in his heart. Beatrice laughs at their pathetic deaths and to humiliate them even more, she takes away Kanon’s body.

Meanwhile as the rest trying to figure out the pentacle, Maria explains that magic sun circle. George then brings up how everyone got in if the key was in the envelope. So how did the culprit lock the chapel’s door? The scene pauses for another argument with Beatrice and Battler who is not amused of another locked room mystery. Since he argues there may be a hidden duplicate key or secret entrance, Beatrice adds a new rule that red words will appear whenever she speaks the truth. Though, this does not mean she is obliged to show him any proof. Battler refuses to believe the dead ones entered the chapel via magic door although Beatrice confirms everyone entered via the door. Others that she confirmed includes there is only one key, the door cannot be open via other methods like picking and the object inside Maria’s envelope is the chapel’s key. Battler then corners her with his answer. The culprit secretly stole the letter from Maria’s bag and after committing the crime, locked the chapel’s door and put back the key into the envelope and back in Maria’s bag. This proves the crime is possible without magic. Beatrice praises him. But that means he has to suspect one of his relatives. The scene resumes as they discuss about solving Beatrice’s epitaph. As real gold were at the crime scene, they deduce the hidden gold must be true. Maria doesn’t care for all that and just wants to go there and won’t get in Beatrice’s way. Rosa returns with a gun that she borrowed from Kinzou so that she can protect them.

Episode 9: Skewer
Suspecting Jessica and Kanon have not returned, they head to her room to see another pentacle. After opening it, they see Jessica’s corpse. As Jessica’s key is on the drawer, Rosa suspects the servants because only they have the master key to all rooms except the study and chapel. Because Genji and Shannon were with Kinzou, the suspicions fall on Gouda and Chiyo. Even more on Gouda because he was with Kanon. But the most suspicious is Kanon whose body is nowhere to be found. He might be the one who killed Jessica and locked this room. She wants to assume he is the killer and probably in cohorts with Beatrice to get the gold but Battler objects. He has Gouda explain what happened. Kanon gave Jessica his key to open Beatrice’s room. If Jessica has not given the key back, it must still be in her pocket. Nanjou searches her body and picks out Kanon’s key. Although this proves Kanon is not the killer as he has no master key to lock the door, Rosa’s suspicions fall back on Gouda and Chiyo. Battler also objects because he believes the servants cannot be such killers even if they are offered money because he knows they always want to make people happy. Therefore don’t go accusing people without proof. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But this mean they are back to the problem of who locked the door. Another paused scene of Battler arguing the facts with Beatrice. She confirms a few more truths like the door is the only entrance and exit to this room and there are no other ways to get in. But when Beatrice points out Battler created this locked room mystery himself because he refused to acknowledge magic or suspect his relatives, back in reality Battler resigns and gives up in figuring out who locked the door. Although he clears Kanon as the killer, this means Shannon and Gouda are back to being suspects.

When everyone is having a meal, Maria shows the wolves and sheep puzzle. Rosa then has all the servants and Nanjou out of the room. With only the family members in it, this is similar to that puzzle. Rosa argues that more than one culprit could have killed the siblings. But the question now is who are the wolves and who are the sheep. It is made more suspicious why the culprit locked the door. Doing so would only place more suspicion on themselves. Rosa can prove she is not a wolf because had she been after Kinzou’s wealth, she would have killed all of them now and say Beatrice did it. However she has not done it. As the servants are in the kitchen, they heard a weird banging sound. Gouda opens the door only to find Kanon’s bloodied corpse! But he is not totally dead yet. He claims Rosa is the culprit. She is going to kill them all. Shannon suspects something amiss, runs to the boiler room. Kanon shocks everyone by getting up. He talks like he is fine and the pain is nothing to him. Shannon returns with a handkerchief she used to wipe a spider’s web. If he is really Kanon, it will do nothing to him. Kanon gets defensive and materializes his magic blades. Too bad Nanjou and Chiyo’s throat got slit in the process. As the rest restrain him on the wall, Genji slams the handkerchief into Kanon’s wound. After screaming in pain, he disappears.

Episode 10: Accept
The servants are finding it hard to explain what they saw and this only irks Rosa because her question is simple: Who did it?! It’s like it was Kanon but wasn’t. WTF. When they return to check on the corpses, it is now missing. Rosa believes that the duo are still alive and faked their deaths to attack them. Rosa then reads the letter about Beatrice’s reminding them to solve the epitaph and not look for her. It also states the corpses were taken for her ceremony. When Beatrice makes more truths about the doors and master keys, Rosa has had it with this farce and suspects the servants. Until the bodies are found, they will remain as suspects. Genji returns his key as a sign of trust and so do the other servants. After putting them in Maria’s bag, she is satisfied that this way she doesn’t have to suspect anyone and the best person she can trust is herself. When Maria says Beatrice doesn’t need keys and only magic to open doors, Rosa is about to slap her but Battler stops her. He starts crying and admits Maria was right! He should have believed in witches to save them the pain of it all. Rosa and the servants are confident they can regain their trust with each other after this. George accompanies the other servants into the kitchen. After that, Battler is dismayed when Rosa mentions she has never trusted them at all. Beatrice can calm Rosa’s suspicions by saying there are only 5 master keys and no duplicates. She can do so if Battler is willing to become her furniture. Shannon explains her spider move. Because evil spirits used to reside on this island, spider webs have that property to repel magic. She feels guilty for smashing the mirror and releasing that witch’s power. But they remember Natsuhi kept another similar mirror in her room and think if they get that mirror, they might be able to resist Beatrice. The plan is to retrieve Natsuhi’s room key from her corpse since the dead bodies are still at the chapel. Genji will not go as he needs to be on standby in case his master calls. The trio rush down to the chapel and after Shannon takes Natsuhi’s key, they are attacked by golden butterflies and Beatrice appears before them. In Natsuhi’s room, George is trying to pry open the box from the drawer where the mirror is supposed to be. Gouda tries to keep the door shut but he got killed in the midst. Beatrice and her goat army are here.

Episode 11: Back Rank Mate
George manages to pry open and the mirror activates a barrier that protects them. Beatrice summons Kanon to attack them but the barrier still holds its ground. When Shannon pities Beatrice that she doesn’t understand their love, this riles her a lot as she unleashes all her power on them, eventually killing them right before Shannon could have George confess his love to her again. Genji calls Rosa to inform the bodies of Nanjou and Chiyo have been found in the garden. Realizing their deaths are part of the ritual, Battler worries about George and the rest. Hurrying back to Natsuhi’s room, they see their corpses. All dead and yet another condition for the ritual fulfilled. When they return to the room, there is another letter from Beatrice about the ceremony going to start soon that will bring about her revival. Rosa then points the gun at him and clearly suspects he is the culprit. She believes he was the one who put the letter there. Battler then suspects back Rosa for being the most suspicious because she is the only adult not killed. Why wasn’t she at the chapel? Because she invited them to kill them! Maria starts crying over their fighting. This makes Battler sick in suspecting each other. He calls out to Beatrice to show herself and admit to these murders. Later, Genji brings Battler to Kinzou’s room. Beatrice is there as she called him here for his surrender. She would gladly answer all his questions if he admits her existence and also kneel and lick her feet. So Battler now becomes her pet? Kinzou wanting to go with Beatrice to her land of hidden goal gets devoured and her limbs torn apart by the goat army. Similarly, Battler also meets this same fate! Rosa takes a gold bar from the chapel and runs away with Maria. But the goat army is hot on their heels. Rosa realizes she has been a bad mother and despite all she has done towards Maria, she still needs her and not the gold. Eventually Rosa is captured and under Beatrice’s hospitality, she is forced to eat body parts of her siblings. The final dessert is eating Maria, in which the little girl taunts her to do so because she has always been in the way whenever Rosa brought home a different man. Rosa is forced to acknowledge Beatrice’s existence. Suddenly Battler revives to reject all that. Seeing how perseverant Rosa was, this gave him the will to come back. Can he do that? Beatrice dares him. The scene then changes again to Beatrice talking to Bernkastel. It seems she knows she isn’t just an observer but making a bet fighting against her. Because of this, fellow witch, Lambdadelta pops up and since she has a grudge against Bernkastel, she will side with Beatrice and bet against her. Bernkastel will go all out now that she has been exposed as Beatrice calls forth the next game.

Episode 12: Castling
This is a little confusing. Beatrice when she was young and human accidentally broke a family vase. Then this witch named Beatrice helped her to fix it before the stupid cat broke it again. The witch mentions about her teacher who practised some endless magic that could forever fix things and thus dubbed the Endless Witch. Mini Beatrice is awed and wants to become her disciple and thus Beatrice the witch takes her in. Eva dreams about Kinzou telling her off that Krauss will always rank higher than her. Her job is to marry a man that will be profitable to the family. While she laments this chauvinism, it seems her inner self continues to convince her to fight this to fulfil their promise to become the head of the family. But they have to look for the key to the Golden Land. The family gather at Rokkenjima again. The kids are happy together as Battler makes a vow for them to forever stay friends. Of course Beatrice won’t let this happen as she introduces us to her head demon butler, Ronove. This time, Rokkenjima is cut off from the real world and in the spirit world. After Maria reads the letter on Beatrice’s epitaph at the dinner table, this has Eva and Natsuhi lock heads on who succeeds the family and the assets. Although Natsuhi believes Krauss is the unshakable heir, the letter has made everyone fair game for it. Later the adults discuss this Beatrice person. Could she be really a witch or the 19th person on the island? Then those rumours about her being Kinzou’s mistress who is secretly living on this island and the reason she threw this challenge was perhaps she already had tons of gold so that she could trade with the family’s inheritance. Kyrie presents another option that there could be arrogance or she herself is playing in this game. Beatrice might be looking down on them that they can never solve the epitaph and to show off her superiority over the losers. Now we go back to Beatrice and Battler’s discussion regarding the extra person. Battler dares her to declare there are only 18 people only and because she can’t, it means none of the 18 is suspected and this means he can use the argument the 19th person is Beatrice the human and at the same time disproving Beatrice’s status as a witch if he suspects his own relative. With Beatrice also refusing to declare the fixed number of people on this island means Battler can theorize as many culprits as he wants. But Beatrice is not panicking yet. There is a reason she is refusing to say this. Back to the adult’s discussion, Rosa reveals Beatrice cannot be alive because… She killed her!

Episode 13: Gambit
About 20 years ago after Rosa was harshly scolded by her mom, she ran deep into a forest and stumbled upon a secret garden. That is where she met Beatrice and they talked about many things. Seems Kinzou has been keeping her here in this ‘cage’ and not go over the fence on pretence there are wolves outside. When Rosa assures the island is safe, Beatrice decides to follow her outside. Battler can’t believe this crap either so Ronove on behalf of Beatrice also speaks the truth about this hidden mansion called Kuwadorian does exist and that Beatrice did exist as a human in 1967. As Rosa takes Beatrice along the cliffs, the latter slips and falls to her death. Beatrice in spirit form now regains her memories as the Endless Witch. In this form she is free from Kinzou’s prison. Now Beatrice makes the truth statement that there are only 18 people on Rokkenjima. This means Battler must suspect his relative despite Beatrice’s short appearance (because she’s technically dead now) although he can’t believe Beatrice might be masquerading herself as one of the relatives. Or would he rather acknowledge her existence?

Genji, Shannon and Kanon are called to Kinzou’s room. It seems Beatrice and Ronove are here. Beatrice relays the good news to Kinzou that she agrees to reunite with him before the ceremony’s completion. The bad news? He is her first sacrifice. Old geezer bursts into flames. Because Shannon has no regrets about accepting George’s ring, Beatrice feels displeased. Instead, she wants to toy with Kanon a bit and calls forth the eldest among the Seven Sisters of Purgatory, Lucifer of Pride. If Kanon can best her Seven Sisters of Purgatory, she’ll let him choose 2 of 5 people who will escape becoming one of her 13 sacrifices. Shannon doesn’t want him to listen but Kanon wants to escape this furniture life and experience love like her. Kanon and Lucifer fight and surprisingly Kanon is superior. Even when Lucifer seriously tries to kill him, Kanon stood his ground. About Beatrice’s promise, well, she did say he had to defeat all of them, right? With the 7 sisters trying to pierce through Kanon, Shannon makes a barrier to protect him. She has no regrets in her life after fulfilling her duty as his big sister. Those words also irritate Beatrice as she vows not to let them die in peace. That is when Genji commends the duo for doing well and then, uhm, kills them off? He would also gladly sacrifice his life for them and Ronove does the honours to put him to sleep. Beatrice then has the sisters hunt for 2 more sacrifices. After Gouda became the unfortunate one, they aim for Chiyo. However she has a barrier that shields their attacks. Beatrice then confronts Chiyo and it is revealed that Chiyo was her teacher and the former witch known as Beatrice.

Episode 14: Positional Play
Both Beatrices being their epic magic battle. Original Beatrice thought she had won when the new Beatrice is impaled by her light spears. However the latter summoned some hidden weapon at the start of the battle and original Beatrice didn’t realize she got hit. It’s her lost. New Beatrice then mocks and steps on her head, gloating about her victory. This is only all the more troublesome for Battler because how the heck is he going to counter it all after watching this fantasy fight! Beatrice cannot stop laughing at how he will tackle this. Meanwhile the adults are at a dead end so when they leave the room to take a break, they smell a foul stench coming from the kitchen. A pentacle is on the door and it is locked. They check on the kids and they are safe and sound asleep. Kinzou and the servants are missing. They see Shannon sitting in a room but since she doesn’t answer, they break through the window to enter and find her dead, slumped on the chair. Battler is agonizing at the current events when original Beatrice visits him. Sure, she is ‘dead’ but now they are ‘out of the chessboard’. She offers to teach him something about magic. Do you know there are gremlins working behind the TV to make it work? Crap, right? How would he know? Has he ever taken a look inside? This is exactly what a Schrodinger cat situation is and what Rokkenjima is experiencing. As long as the box is not opened, the possibility of truths can exist together. Although Battler finds it weird that he is trying to deny witches but yet seeking help from one, he agrees to do so to end this tragedy. To avoid confusion, the original Beatrice will identify herself as Virgilia. Battler returns to Beatrice very confident and using the Schrodinger cat theory, because all the magic weapons and beasts summoned during the battle are nowhere to be seen, this means all that is left in the battlefield is just an ordinary rose garden. Beatrice is not pleased Virgilia is siding with Battler.

The adults are loading their guns after they found Kinzou’s body in the boiler. After Battler has Beatrice define the definition of a locked room and all servants have a master key, they reconstruct the murder scenes. Shannon was the first corpse found, beside her is an envelope containing a key to a next room in which another dead body is found. This loop is repeated till it is one big locked room mystery. Shannon -> Chiyo -> Gouda -> Genji -> Kinzou -> Kanon. Battler turns the tables by claiming that it is not how they were killed from outside but how they died from inside. This means they must have killed themselves. Because Beatrice doesn’t want to claim all 6 were killed by others, this is as good as losing the game. She is forced to say it and unfortunately this puts Battler in a bind. But Virgilia says not to be intimidated by what she says because despite claiming they didn’t commit suicide, she also didn’t say they were killed by others. Neither suicide nor homicide. This has Battler conclude that the murderer is one of the victims. But instead of escaping, there was an unforeseen accident that caused him/her to die and thus created an unwanted locked room mystery. Beatrice is about to admit more truths but Ronove holds her horses and wants time to strategize. Meanwhile Eva cannot figure out the sweetfish river puzzle till her inner self hinted something. She heads to the library to check and discovers something. Taking the underground stairs, it leads her to a room where it is filled with gold bars.

Episode 15: Isolated Pawn
Rosa congratulates Eva for finding the gold. She had also deciphered the riddle but had she been 5 minutes earlier, it could have been hers. The duo discuss about splitting the gold and Eva wants to hold off telling the brothers about this discovery till she can make them accept that she has inherited the family’s headship. But Eva’s inner self disagrees with all this as she claims the gold to be hers and thus her right as the family’s head. Beatrice congratulates her for finding the gold and that it belongs to her. As proof, she gives Kinzou’s ring. Because of this, a ceremony to pass on the witch title and powers to her. She will also take on the new name of Beatrice, though I will identify her as Eva Beatrice. She is introduced to the other witches like Lambdadelta who seems dissatisfied with this new Beatrice despite she recommended her as Beatrice’s successor. She is also introduced to Ronove and the Purgatory sisters. Battler is confused with this farce and surprisingly so is Beatrice. From what I understand, this ceremony scene is fake and just her way of interpretation of passing the title. For the time being, Battler is advised to assume this Eva Beatrice is the representation of Eva’s inner self. When Eva and Rosa return to the rest, the former develops a little fever. Resting in her room, she talks to Hideyoshi about never believing in Beatrice and if it was, it was just a witch in her heart. She has this fear that she is changing into a different person and the witch inside her was provoked by Beatrice.

Maria is kicking up a fuss to check on the rose garden. She was tasked by Beatrice to look after it and if she doesn’t take care of it, something bad will happen to her. In order not to draw more attention, Rosa agrees to accompany her to check it to keep her quiet. The rose is still intact but appearing before them is Eva. Not the real Eva but Eva Beatrice. The real one is squirming in pain feeling that she is being kidnapped by someone. Rosa thought she is here to talk about the gold share but Eva Beatrice will not let her have a single ounce. She is going to make them her first sacrifice by levitating and then dropping them from that height. After that she resurrects them and is awed with her amazing powers and proceeds to abuse them with quirky powers. Having fun, isn’t she? Beatrice is laughing and having fun watching this scene that it disgusts Battler. Because nothing can be done to stop this as they are outside the playing field, Battler slaps her for being a nuisance! He doesn’t want to see her face again. Surprisingly, Beatrice actually feels bad about this and start reflecting that she may have went overboard enjoying too much of it. With Virgilia having nothing to say to her and even Ronove’s opinion that she is a numbskull in not understanding feelings of others, Beatrice heads down to talk to Eva Beatrice about the need to be more elegant in using her powers instead of flaunting it so recklessly which makes it disgraceful. She offers to show how it is done. Maria is disappointed when Beatrice cannot keep her promise so she kills her off by strangling the loli. As for Rosa, she impales her head into the sharp fence point. Eva Beatrice finds this killing method boring so Beatrice summons her servants and reminds them the need to perform in a graceful manner and be reasonable. Eva Beatrice isn’t quite happy with this boring turn of events.

Episode 16: Queening Square
Rudolf finds Rosa and Maria’s bodies. Battler is stilled so pissed off he doesn’t give repented Beatrice a chance to talk. He has hated her ever since the start for pulling off cruel deaths on his family. Beatrice has Ronove continue on her behalf. When Battler suggests Rosa strangles Maria out of anger and then accidentally slipped and fell, causing her to get impaled, Ronove makes another truth statement that they were killed by others. The adults discuss about Rosa being killed by someone familiar since she didn’t fire her gun and allowed to let her guard down. Eva cannot believe her other self did this. She has the gold and headship so she wants her to stop but Eva Beatrice still wants to sacrifice some to attain her full witch powers. She assures she will spare her family. This makes Eva feel even sick. It is suggested to run over to the kitchen and grab food as now it is the brightest time of the day amidst the storm. Kyrie, Rudolf and Hideyoshi will rush over and get things done quickly. Once inside the building, Eva Beatrice summons a couple of Seven Sisters of Purgatory, Leviathan of Envy and Belphegor of Sloth to kill Kyrie and Rudolf but spare Hideyoshi. Kyrie and Rudolf can sense something paranormal stalking them. The sisters appear. Since they are fast enough to avoid their shots, the adults decide to run for it knowing they have a better chance of surviving by fleeing. Leviathan corners Kyrie and mentions about her power source as envy. However Kyrie turns the tables that her envy is far greater than hers. She always loved Rudolf but somehow Asumu wormed her way into his heart. Asumu gave birth to Battler and Kyrie suffered a miscarriage. She bore that envy till the very day she died. And just like that, Leviathan gets shot.

Eva Beatrice shows herself before Rudolf and he is surprised to see his sister in this garb. When he fires, Belphegor protects her. Eva Beatrice isn’t appreciate she became her shield and mocks the Seven Sisters of Purgatory as outdated. She summons her own ones. Military bunny girls? Siesta 410 and Siesta 45 do some flashy calculating to fire and instantly kill Rudolf and Kyrie. Eva Beatrice then disrespects their corpses and is going to toy around with it when Hideyoshi slaps her for trying to act tough when she is just a weak coward. I’m not sure about this child-like punishment he is doing on her but she finds it annoying and kills him off. Beatrice then confronts her and has come complaining to do. However Eva Beatrice knows about her goal to make Battler admit her existence. Sorry, she won’t be obliged to do that since she is already a powerful witch with or without anyone’s acknowledgement. After the rest finds the corpse of the trio, when Battler wants Ronove to confirm the corpses, he won’t do it because he cannot take responsibility of this. He wants Battler to give Beatrice another chance as she has repented and will change. Even Virgilia will personally try to get Beatrice to apologize and hopes he can accept her back into the game one more time. Battler seems to agree although he points out he won’t forgive her still. Virgilia talks to Beatrice about Battler becoming her opponent not because he wanted to acknowledge her. It was because he didn’t want to accept the existence of a brutal witch no matter what. Remember, this isn’t a game to torture Battler and make him surrender. It is a test to see whether she can get Battler to acknowledge her. Virgilia wants Beatrice to apologize to Battler and come back to her seat.

Episode 17: Promotion
Beatrice is forced to listen to Battler’s lecture about toying with human emotions and the way she controls lives of others makes her unappreciative of life itself. After Virgilia defines the existence and role of the Endless Witch, Battler calls Beatrice a failure to live up to that name. This means she isn’t qualified to be a witch now. She will do anything to gain his forgiveness but I suppose she needs to think about it herself. He promises her one thing that he will not abandon this game himself and will wait till she becomes a real witch worthy as his opponent. When George is alone by himself, Beatrice appears before him and hints she can revive Shannon. George really wants her powers to do that but unfortunately, Beatrice has passed on her title and is not as powerful as before. She takes him out of the mansion as Ronove and the sisters lie to Eva Beatrice that they didn’t sense anyone exiting the house. Beatrice and Eva Beatrice confront each other in the dream. The former realized getting the headship was sufficient but became greedy after seeing the gold. She views her inner self as her evil part. This means she is responsible for all the deaths so far. Eva becomes devastated upon learning this evil self committed the murders. She is sad she has so many dreams yet to achieve but Eva Beatrice says those dreams are only made when she became an adult and has nothing to do with her. She launches a scathing attack on her and doesn’t want to see her face anymore. So how does Eva Beatrice deal with this? She kills off Krauss and Natsuhi!

Beatrice has George pray hard before Shannon’s body. She will try to open the door to Hades but because of her insufficient power, only George’s true feelings might be able to pull her soul back out. Eventually he does so and Shannon comes back to life. The emotional reunion and gratefulness is all short-lived when Eva Beatrice kills the duo! WTF?! The rest starts to find the missing ones. Jessica becomes distraught seeing her parents’ bodies. The same case for Eva when she sees George’s. Battler can’t end up the same fate as his parents. Who else is going to look after his little sister, Ange? Jessica barges in to accuse Eva of killing her parents because she was the only one with them. Eva also accuses them of killing her George. When things get so heated up, Eva accidentally fires at Jessica. Although she missed, the discharge blinds Jessica. After Nanjou treats her wounds and is about to get Battler, Eva Beatrice kills him! Then she toys with Jessica’s mind that she will be next. Jessica screams for help and that includes Kanon’s name. Beatrice is going to revive Kanon despite her limited power. This might be risky as it will all end here but if it is to make Battler acknowledge her, she’ll gladly do it.

Episode 18: Swindles
Kanon revives temporarily to help Jessica. But in spirit form. He leads her to hide in a room and thanks Beatrice for her help. As Beatrice tries to put a barrier on the door, she is shot by the Siesta sisters. However Beatrice still lives and this scares the sisters. After exploding her heart, Beatrice now exists in just her heart form. Before Eva Beatrice could step on it, the scene pauses. Battler has seen everything. Beatrice laments she wasn’t good enough to be his opponent. He admits to that because his true opponent is Eva Beatrice. She is now dragged into this game as Battler praises Beatrice for protecting the honour of true witches. The Siesta sisters can’t even harm him and this too makes them scared. Battler begins his move by bringing up the deaths of Rosa and Maria. This has him apply Eva is the culprit theory. However Eva Beatrice counters that with Hideyoshi’s alibi that he was nursing her in their room when it happened. Battler counters that argument although Hideyoshi was with Eva, it was a lie he was taking care of her. Eva Beatrice cannot confirm that in red. Now she brings up the deaths of Kyrie, Rudolf and Hideyoshi. Because it was Kyrie’s suggestion not to leave the mansion but later changed her mind to go out to get food, this proves she was under her mind control spell. They head down to the crime scene as Battler and Beatrice check Kyrie’s pockets and find a cigarette butt. This is the same cigarette brand that Hideyoshi smokes. Eva hate smoking and Battler believes the butt in Kyrie’s pocket is a sign left behind. As there was a cigarette butt in the ashtray of that room, noticing this, Kyrie realized Eva had snuck out of her room. Because Eva Beatrice cannot confirm this, Battler concludes Kyrie’s move to ask Hideyoshi to help was to isolate and interrogate him. However Eva Beatrice hits back with many red truths like how Eva was with Battler during the time and thus impossible for Eva to commit the murder. And since this makes Nanjou and Jessica the only suspects, she adds the survivors cannot be the killers. This all proves that the witch made the murder.

Battler finds it impossible to counter this and is about to give up but Beatrice knows a way. She will deny the existence of witches. This is a big sacrificial move that will remove and erase all witches from the scene. Eva Beatrice objects to this as she still wants to be a witch. Beatrice wants Battler to cover his ears so at least she would still be a witch in his eyes. Beatrice has atoned so much that Battler is crying for her. Eva Beatrice is held down by Ronove as Beatrice reads the truth of the non-existence of witches. All of them disappear shortly. Back in reality, Battler is shocked to learn that Eva is the big culprit and gets shot. Suddenly Battler and Beatrice find themselves surrounded by the rest of the casts. Everybody is still alive? They applause for them to finally reach here. All Battler needs to do now is the affix his signature like the rest of the family to admit the existence of witches so that they can go to the Golden Land. Battler feels something amiss when Beatrice and Virgilia become pushy for him to sign. Suddenly a chick breaks into the scene and tells Battler not to fall for this trap otherwise he will have lost. It hit Battler that everything has been an act and a trap. Realizing this chick is a piece Bernkastel threw in, Beatrice returns to her cruel crazy side and reveals this trap was setup with Virgilia. This chick will now reveal all that happened on that fateful day on Rokkenjima and will be her opponent. Beatrice is seen talking to Lambdadelta and being reminded about her job to keep winning for eternity if she wants to continue being a witch. Fast forward 12 years in time, that chick is actually grown up Ange. She is at Eva’s deathbed and wants to know the truth of her family’s death on that island but the family head continues to mock and despise her till her death. Ange has had it and is about to jump off the roof to kill herself when Bernkastel appears. She claims her family has been forever locked away on that day 12 years ago. The enemy is Beatrice and the source that forced a future of isolation upon her. Only the final Beatrice can stand up to her. In other words, Ange is Ange Beatrice. Although she cannot promise her family will come back if she defeats her, if she believes, she can bring about a miracle. Ange agrees to take this chance.

Episode 19: End Game
Ange returns to the past and on the day the families depart to Rokkenjima. She will uncover the truth and take them back. Beatrice feels bad after hearing from Ronove that Battler is in extreme depression. But when she sees him energetically trying to steal back his food from the Purgatory sisters, she gets embarrassed Ronove lied to her. Having fun? Battler won’t let that big deception bring him down and now that he has learnt his big lesson, he won’t trust any help from her. Beatrice introduces Ange into the game. But Ange hates Battler for slacking although she will greatly help him to defeat this witch. She disguises herself under the name of Gretel. We delve a bit in Ange’s past. After Eva was the only sole survivor at Rokkenjima, she took in Ange and raised her up strictly as the family’s successor. You can say her life was hell. Her classmates don’t think highly of her and reading Maria’s ‘magic’ diary, she is able to communicate with Maria. I’m confused. After Ange attempted to jump off the rooftop but was caught by a safety net, she is seen talking to Tetsuro Okonogi, the president of one of the siblings’ companies. She asks about that day on Rokkenjima so his theory is that Kinzou who once had Krauss in mind as the family head then believed Eva to be the suitable one. On pretence to solve the epitaph, Kinzou already gave her the answer. So when she was away at Kuwadorian to get the headship proof, the rest met with an accident. However Ange thinks all that is crap and believes Eva killed everybody for the wealth. Okonogi believes their difference in opinion is due to love. He knows Eva loves her family and even if she were to kill everyone, she wouldn’t kill hers. She was seen crying genuinely at the funeral of Hideyoshi and George. Ange is supposed to meet some family aunt next but she runs away. The goons try to get her but she is saved by her bodyguard, Juuza Amakusa. She wants to investigate the Rokkenjima incident.

Going back in time where the siblings have gathered, Krauss refuses his siblings to see Kinzou. Then Kyrie offers a proposal. She suggests they won’t see Kinzou if he fulfils a few conditions. Kinzou’s caretaker has to take good care of him. But of course. By any chance if Kinzou dies an unnatural death, his role as caretaker and head of the family will be relinquished. But a person can die in many ways, right? For example if Kinzou gets lost in the forest while taking a walk, it is due to the caretaker’s negligence. Of course once Kinzou’s die, they will inspect his body to determine his death. It seems Kyrie is hinting that Krauss knows Kinzou is dead and hiding his death to avoid splitting his inheritance. Back to Battler’s battle with Beatrice, with this argument this means there are only 17 people on Rokkenjima and he wants her to confirm the truth there are 18. However she won’t as she has gotten bored of this. He calls it unfair but Ange chides him for slacking as up till now he has accepted and played along with her unfair rules. This game isn’t just unfair. It’s just stupid. This riles Beatrice so she gives Battler a chance to speak in words of blue. He may do this when he tries to explain her magic murders with human tricks. But it won’t work unless it denies witches by itself. Once he does this, the witch who claims to use magic as murder must respond to it. Battler is still confused by this rule so again Ange chides him for looking at a single point. He gets the idea of countering with many points and as long one hits, it is all that matters. So his first blue points are Kinzou is already dead, there are only 17 people on Rokkenjima but this mysterious person X around there are 18 people and thus crimes will still be possible even if all 17 people have alibis. Krauss agrees to convince Kinzou to let them see the siblings as proof. Kinzou, alive and well is not happy he waltzed in here because his siblings threatened him. Wow. Old man can lift and throw this guy away. Kinzou agrees to meet them and make a great announcement of the next successor and put an end to their foolish quarrel himself.

Episode 20: Zugzwang
Ange seems to be dissatisfied in what Maria wrote in her diary about her happiness, so there is this confrontation with Maria about it. She is told how the truth can change its form depending on the observing. Showing an example whereby Rosa was supposed to be home and take Maria out to the movies during the weekend but instead she called to say she was unable to make it due to her busy schedule. From what I can see, it looked like she was having an affair. Maria was left home alone and heartbroken but her lion doll, Sakutaro helped cheer her up. Not sure if this is her imaginary friend or for real but the most important thing was Maria was able to be kept happy throughout the night. When Rosa did come home, Maria spotted a receipt from the inn she went. Rosa snatched it back and although she had that look that wants to beat her up, eventually she couldn’t bring herself to beat an innocent child and hugged her. Ange sees this as Rosa abandoning her to have her own holiday but Maria doesn’t view it as so. She claims Ange has lots of happy fragments around her but only chose to pick unhappy ones. This was true for Maria once until she got some magic power. As proof, Beatrice vouches for her and even shows a scene whereby Beatrice and Virgilia signed in Maria’s diary as witness to make Maria as the Apprentice Witch of Origins. Maria also notes Ange also have this sort of magic. Ange remembers she too underwent some sort of training that allowed her to step into the world of witches.

Along with Sakutaro, Maria will help Ange to train to become a witch. She has her try summoning a few familiars. She does summoning the Seven Sisters of Purgatory they are more interested in glomping cutie Sakutaro. To be easy on Ange’s training, Mammon of Greed is decided to help train her. They return back to Ange’s original time when she is in high school. Mammon notices her cheap hair accessories. She got them during a carnival outing with Battler. Ange says she wants to learn magic to revive her family. However her training didn’t go well and something went wrong that made her unable to use magic again and never saw Mammon until she graduated. Ange sees am occult professor who seems to be studying the Rokkenjima case. He explains how 2 bottle messages were discovered, one by a fisherman and the other by the police. Although both detailed the events that happened at Rokkenjima, the contents were different and both letters had the same handwriting. Making it more baffling is that both letters were signed by Maria. It made them wonder which was the truth and which was the lie and perhaps were there other more bottles out there. This has spawned many into finding such bottles and thus been dubbed the Rokkenjima Witch Hunt. They believe some supernatural or occult phenomenon has occurred on the island. When Ange shows Maria’s diary, the professor reacts in a very shocked way. This proves that the handwriting of the bottle letters and the diary are the same. While Ange is talking to Mammon, Lambdadelta interjects to warn Ange she has been tricked by Bernkastel. It is a lie that Battler would come home if she defeats Beatrice. Although it is true Battler would return to his original world, it would be in the past and not the current era. This means her win will be for nothing. Lambdadelta wants to make a deal with her. She wants to stop Battler from winning and turn this game from one tie after another forever. This way, Ange gets to be with Battler and this also satisfies Lambdadelta’s objectives.

Episode 21: Prophylaxis
Ange studies hard but her test results don’t translate into that. Her classmates bully her for being dumb and even force her to write an apology letter. Ange obliges until it gets out of hand whereby they question her existence. This is when Ange snapped as she orders the Seven Sisters of Purgatory to kill everyone! Because they can’t do it, she calls them useless and her disbelief in magic causes them to turn into stone and shatter. Mammon is the last one standing. Before she ‘dies’, she tells off Ange about resorting to her delusions to dirty her hands. Ange’s rage reaches far and wide that even Sakutaro transforms back to his doll form. This has Ange remember that she told Maria she didn’t believe in magic and this made Maria upset and excommunicated her from whatever magic circle. Ange feels so sad that she just wants to die and collapses right before her classmates. The scene now shifts to Maria. Home alone as usual, after she returns from the convenience store, she realizes she has misplaced her house key. Lost kid ended up at the police station whereby the officer tried to contact Rosa but was told she was away on vacation with her boyfriend and nobody in her office knew how to contact her. Maria heard all that and it made her feel sad. When Rosa comes home and a neighbourhood lady tells her off about leaving Maria home alone, Rosa tells her to keep her nose out of their family’s business. She denies whatever affair she is having and kicks her out of the house. Rosa gets mad when Maria is ‘famous’ in town as she is always spotted walking about with her doll. She takes out her frustrations by getting rough with her and yelling, screaming off the stupid daughter she is for not listening to her instructions of not bringing such toys out.

Because Maria continues to speak via Sakutaro, this only makes Rosa even angrier as she takes the doll and rips it apart! Quite heartbreaking to see Maria sad. Beatrice tries to console her and Maria wants her to revive Sakutaro. However that is not possible because Sakutaro was made by Rosa and if she herself denies it, there is no way he can be revived. Because of that, Maria wants to learn magic to avenge and kill her mother. No, kill the bad witch that is possessing her mother. Ange is on her way to Rokkenjima via boat with Amakusa. At first she wants this trip to be a way to satisfy herself in search for answers but after thinking how it isn’t other people who get to decide whether magic exists or not, she felt guilty about her treatment towards Maria and adds another goal to this trip to apologize to Maria for her sin long ago. The moment she accepts magic again, the Seven Sisters of Purgatory reappear before her. She also revives Sakutaro. Although she doesn’t acknowledge witches, whether magic exists or not, she must put this matter on hold. As for the contradiction in believing in the sisters, it means magic exists for those who believe in it. Now that she has accepted it, there is nothing strange for them all to exist. As Sakutaro is here, it proves he exists in her world despite not having a vessel. However Sakutaro says he doesn’t exist in Maria’s world because of what happened. Ange vows to reconcile with Maria and revive and reunite him with her. This is her only way for her to atone her sins. Ange’s aunt, Kasumi Sumadera who has been chasing after Ange ever since she ran away, is now closing in on her with her men.

Episode 22: Problem Child
The siblings are shocked to see Kinzou alive. I guess they lost the bet. Kinzou begins that since none of them succeeded in solving the epitaph, he will scrape it so select his successor. So does this mean Krauss will be the head because he is the eldest son? No. But the rest of the siblings are also not qualified. Therefore the Ushiromiya family will end with his generation. Nanjou believes the siblings have contributed something that money can’t buy: Family. Kinzou decides to change his thinking and will choose one of his grandchildren as the successor. As for his children, they will become sacrifice to revive Beatrice. He summons his Pendragon Memorial Troop, which are actually those military bunny girls. They’ve got an additional member, Siesta 00. He lets them choose and kill 6 of them and the unfortunate ones are Natsuhi, Hideyoshi, Eva, Rudolf, Genji and Rosa (she almost tried to kill Kinzou in a bid to stop him). Kinzou then summons Ronove, Virgilia and a new demon member, Gaap to help in the revival ritual. We return to the scene whereby Rosa just tore apart Sakutaro. As Maria continues to weep over her doll, Rosa is about to beat her when her hand breaks up like porcelain! That way, she will not beat her anymore. Maria in witch form along with Beatrice claims that hand of hers has beaten her more times than she has loved her. In fact, Sakutaro is the one who is her true friend and has always been by her side. Rosa use that busy work as excuse but when Maria mentions she knows about her affair, Rosa reveals her true colours that Maria is the obstruction to her happiness. Because no man would love a woman who has a child from another man. The damning statement comes when she says she has never truly loved her! She never wished she was born! Upset Maria kills her the way she did to Sakutaro. But not enough, she revives and kills her again. Even after 100 times, it still doesn’t feel satisfying although Maria looks like she’s enjoying herself.

Returning to Rokkenjima, the kids are waiting in the guest house. Battler teases Maria as a kid so she throws a big tantrum. Then she switches to her creepy witch mode before George calms her down. When they hear knocking on the door, it is Chiyo and Gouda. They explain all that has happened. Krauss and the rest are locked in a dungeon. Oddly, there is a phone and although it doesn’t connect to outside the island, Krauss manages to connect to the guest house and speaks to Jessica. He tells her not to avenge for mom and wants to stay in there to barricade themselves till morning passes. He fears Kinzou will kill them if they meet as he is not in his right state of mind. Soon, Kinzou visits the prisoners. This place is the basement of Kuwadorian. Kinzou was the one who placed the phone there as part of his plan. He will test them to see if any one of them is worthy of his succession. If so, he will suspend the ceremony to revive Beatrice. He wants Krauss to call the kids. If he refuses, this means he will not give the kids a chance and all of them will become immediate sacrifices for the ritual.

Episode 23: Breakthrough
Ange is seen visiting Nanjou’s son who is also a doctor. He relates having received a strange letter. Somebody used his name to send this letter to an unknown address. Naturally it was returned to him a few days later. Inside it contains a key, a bank card and a PIN number. After attending his father funeral, he visited the bank and when he showed the card, the clerk suddenly changed her character. He was guided to an underground vault and upon opening the safe deposit box, a huge sum of money! He immediately left as he didn’t want to have anything to do with this cursed money. Later she visits Chiyo’s son who also got the same kind of letter with similar contents. He didn’t understand its contents and left it there and forgot all about it. She then noticed one of Chiyo’s belongings in his possession. It isn’t the epitaph but its riddle felt like it. Then she sees Captain Kawabata to rent a boat to Rokkenjima as he is the family’s boatman to the island. Ever since that incident, many feared going to the island. He felt disgusted how the media tried to make fun of the incident. Nevertheless he promises to take care of her and see through she comes back alive. Ange sees something magical in the storeroom and now understands and realizes this fate of magic surrounding Maria and Beatrice. Back in time as the kids are going to be given their tests, they are made to lock Gouda and Chiyo in the storeroom. Then the kids will take turns to take the test and Jessica will go first.

In her room, she meets Ronove who gives her a letter with details of her test. Out of the 3 options, she is required to choose 1. The first, sacrifice her own life. The second, sacrifice her lover’s life. The third, sacrifice everyone else’s life. If none is chosen, all will be sacrificed. She chooses the first one as she cannot live a life without Kanon or couldn’t face him if she has everyone killed. George also receives the same letter from Gaap. Without hesitation, he chooses the third option. He just got engaged with Shannon tonight and he’ll do whatever it takes to be with her forever even if it means making the world his enemy. As the next family head, he is ready to do that. Ronove is about to take Jessica’s life but hold your horses. Her answer was as a girl. But as the head of the family it is different. She punches him in the face and won’t give everything up so easily. Despite Ronove’s unbreakable shield, she continues to throw punches. Her determination not to give up has her punches becoming stronger each time. Meanwhile Gaap wants George to begin his killing. Since he gets to choose the order who to kill first, he is going to kill Gaap! Why the scared look on her face? Although she fights him, George is no pushover and he has superior martial arts. His determination even creates a magical defence barrier when Gaap calls those demon butler goats as reinforcement.

Episode 24: Adjourn
Kanon uses his magical blades to cut the bars. Wait. He claims it is because he is human that he can do this? WTF?! No humans can do that! The Siesta sisters detect the jailbreak and report to Virgilia. She is incensed that Gaap used her demon butler goats without permission and orders the escapees to be killed immediately. Jessica and George are getting stronger in their relentless attack. As they are about to deal the final blow, Ronove and Gaap use a black hole to teleport them and thus they killed each other via the other’s devastating blow! But how come Jessica is still alive? Ronove used his magic to keep her so. She has just 3 minutes to finish up whatever she wants. How kind. She calls Battler to warn him about the non-human enemies. The escapees surface from a well at the back of the mansion after trekking through a secret underground tunnel. However Kanon and Shannon got instantly shot. Run! I guess Nanjou was too slow so he was next. This is followed by Krauss. Kyrie knows her time is up but she manages to get to safety to call Battler and tell him to accept the non-human enemies he will face. Then she apologizes for being mean to him just because he is Asumu’s son. When Kyrie’s voice is no longer heard, it’s a sign she has been killed. Battler receives a phone call from Beatrice who is going to test him herself. Battler tries to get Chiyo and Gouda but sees them hanged in the storeroom.

Confronting Beatrice, he wants to beat everybody up instead of taking her test. Well, if he wins, he’ll get to do that. He is given that letter of sacrificial choice. Because he has no loved one, Battler is thinking of putting Beatrice’s name and choosing this option. Beatrice decides to change the test and wants him to remember the sin he committed 6 years ago. No, it wasn’t about his dad remarried and he casted away his family name. It’s something closer to this island. Since he cannot remember, that is his sin and remembering it will be his test of atonement. It is hinted that because of this sin, all these lives were lost and he is part of the reason for this tragedy. Beatrice gives up on Battler’s test and returns to her room. Kinzou seems pretty delighted and chirpy after passing Maria’s test with flying colours. Since Beatrice is in a bad mood, she roasts him! Her servants wonder what is wrong. Seems she doesn’t find it fun anymore. She is done with this game. Battler thinks he has won but on the contrary, the game is abandoned for eternity with no winner or loser. Bernkastel, Lambdadelta and Ange are against Beatrice’s irresponsible decision to drop out as she was the one who dragged Battler into this. Beatrice questions Battlers qualification as her opponent. She gives Battler permission to speak the red truth. Although he could say Asumu is his mother, whenever he tries to say he was born from her, he could not and his heart starts feeling pain. Beatrice takes this as a sign of disrespect for refusing to do as he is told. It also means he lost his qualifications. Battler tries again but still couldn’t eke out a word. Beatrice says this proves he is not Asumu’s son. Everybody leaves the playing field. Beatrice is seen talking to Maria in a flower field. She thinks they are the only ones who understand magic. Maria looks on the bright side. If there is nobody else here, they won’t be hurt. After all, they are eternal.

Episode 25: Forced Move
Kawabata takes Ange and Amakusa to Rokkenjima as he explains the second secret port that exists on the island as well as the Kuwadorian mansion that he has not seen but was tasked by Kinzou to deliver supplies supposedly used by a woman. He believes this proves the existence of Beatrice living in that mansion. However one day Kinzou told him to stop delivering the goods and it is assumed she has died. That was 30 years ago. Ange goes alone to pay her respects to the family grave. Looking through Maria’s diary, she notices how her kind and gentle magic turned into those that kill. Maria now believes in such magic and calls out to Maria. Unfortunately it is Kasumi and her agents. After Kasumi slaps and torments her, she has her agents beat the crap out of her! Seems she is taking out her frustration on Ange as she hates her older sister Kyrie. Because Kyrie was supposed to succeed the family’s head, she ran away and the task was left to Kasumi. Her carefree life became a tormented one as she was forced to undergo strict training as the head. So by beating up Ange, she will forget her hatred and start over. It is then Ange felt how similar her life is to hers. Now she understands and sympathizes with Eva. Something about as the eldest daughter in the family, the burden fell on her shoulders. Then Eva pushed that role onto Rosa and in turn the reason she took it out on Maria. But Maria’s magic was powerful because despite being abused, she did not take it out on others. She severed all the pain and sadness with her magic. Eva was labelled a witch after the massacre as the media hounded her. Ange realizes could she have been Eva’s ally to help save her. Had she had one then, probably it wouldn’t have turned out this way.

Angie could now see Eva Beatrice. She feels pity for her. Eva Beatrice seems to be encouraging Kasumi to further insult Ange by mocking the contents of Maria’s diary and tearing its pages. This makes Ange mad and sad but she will make them believe in Maria’s magic if she can show it to them. Of course, they dare her believing that she can’t do it. She then starts praying to summon the Seven Sisters of Purgatory. Kasumi orders one of her agents to shoot her as Ange warn not to do it or he will die. Stubborn guy pulls the trigger but gets stabbed by one of the sisters. The Purgatory sisters return but Kasumi and the agents can’t see them because they lack love. The rest are shocked and disregarding Ange’s advice, they fire only to be stabbed. Kasumi refuses to believe all this and picks up the gun and fires. Same thing. She’s dead. Goodbye, pitiful aunt. With Eva Beatrice as the only one left, the witch turns into Eva. She claims she has come back from hell to kill Ange. But when she fires her gun, it backfires and rips her face. Ange must have been numb seeing all the blood so she helps put Eva out of her misery by shooting her. Bernkastel congratulates Ange for understanding all magic at the end of her journey. Ange acknowledges she is the last witch. But she has suspected Bernkastel has been lying to her. Because had she gone back to the past, she will not save her current self and only her past self will be saved. In the end, she still won’t be saved. Despite so, she acknowledges Bernkastel did try to teach her how to take her family back.

Episode 26: Sacrifice
Maria and Beatrice are happily together at flower field AKA the Golden Land when Ange pops up. Maria believes she is happy here and all her wishes are granted. Look, there is even the kind Rosa. But what about Sakutaro? The mention of this causes them to squirm. Ange believes the reason Beatrice cannot revive Sakutaro is because she is not a real witch. Ange can bring Sakutaro back to life but in exchange Maria must leave this place. She has Maria remember how Sakutaro looks like and pop! Here he is! The duo happily reunite as Maria thanks Ange as the greatest witch ever before leaving the land. Beatrice is in despair with this impossibility as she is whisked back to the game. But she still deems there is no worthy opponent as Battler is still reeling that he isn’t Asumu’s son. Because Beatrice cannot speak the red truth that Battler is not Kinzou’s grandson, Ange uses her blue truth that the one qualified to face Beatrice must be Kinzou’s grandson who is no other than Battler. Also, it doesn’t matter if he is Asumu’s son or not. Ange then talks to Battler that blood related isn’t important and what is more important are the bonds. She wants him to come home to his little sister who has been waiting very lonely since. Ange then reveals her true identity and this shocks Battler. But she starts bleeding and dying because a condition for her to be here is that she cannot reveal who she is to him. This motivates Battler that he will win this game and come home to her. Beatrice dares him to kill her as the only way for him to get home.

Battler begins his blue truths that Kinzou has been dead from the start and the mysterious X person adds to the total of 18 people. Beatrice argues the implausibility of the locked room where several people died in Natsuhi’s room. Battler counters this that if Rosa was an accomplice, there is no problem at all. For the third game, the locked room is also possible if Eva was the accomplice. For the fourth game, this X person is believed to have killed others with a gun. Only one problem: Remember how Kinzou showed himself before the siblings? So this proves he isn’t dead to begin with. On the contrary, Kinzou is already dead. Somebody else assumed his name and identity and the siblings just acknowledged it. And since Beatrice cannot confirm that the characters possess multiple aliases, Battler checkmates grandpa. All the other deaths can be attributed to this X person. Beatrice wants him to finish her off by claiming witches don’t exist. However he won’t end it yet because she still has something to hide. Beatrice laughs at him because she was going to give him an easy win. Now that it turns out like this, she’ll make him regret for choosing the hard way. So she makes her red truth despite agreeing Kinzou is already dead, there are no more than 17 people exist and thus the 18th person is non-existent. This also applies to all games. Battler begins his counter argument. Each time, Beatrice gets painfully stabbed by daggers. For the first game, the deaths in the shed could be done by anyone without an alibi. As for in the parlour, the culprit could be the one who faked his/her own death using a fake corpse. If not, simultaneous murders whereby each killed each other with a gun in which Maria proceed to hide it. In the second game, the deaths in the chapel’s banquet mean somebody put bombs in their meal! The third game’s locked room could only mean the culprit murdered each of them in their respective rooms to create the locked room chains. The culprit could just pretend to discover the corpses and the key. Then there’s a counter during Eva Beatrice’s game about somebody pretending to be dead.

At this point, Beatrice has been stabbed so much that she is in pain. However she cannot die and pleads for Battler to kill her. How does it feel, the pain of all those she has killed? She will expose her heart for him to crush so she can die. Her soul floats down to him as she states her final riddle. Battler is the only one left alive on the island. She is now before him and going to kill him. Who is she? The scene changes to where Bernkastel and Lambdadelta are discussing the interesting game that was. Ange was a trump card to get Battler back on track when he mistook his goal. They just felt the piece required so much preparation. While Bernkastel thinks Battler answered most of the riddles correctly, Lambdadelta believes almost all were wrong. Lambdadelta claims that girl still has lots of hidden moves and none of the riddles have been solved. But they believe Beatrice won’t win. Therefore they both declare that Beatrice cannot win and a miracle will not occur.

Money, Murder, Magic, Mystery, Mayhem – When Seagulls Cry Blood
Hey wait! WTF?! What the hell is that unsatisfying cliff-hanger?! Here I am at the last episodes already cracking my brains at all the confusion, especially trying to remember the past games and reconcile how Battler diffuses all that magic load and bull. It was already hard for me to keep up at the very rushed pace of the final episode and then they end it with this crap by not revealing the answer. I mean, I was actually dying to know the answer. Even if the answer would be crap, hey, at least it was answered. Even more confusing crap as we see Bernkastel and Lambdadelta whom I thought hate each other’s guts, conspiring to make Beatrice suffer and play the game for all eternity. So from the looks of it, I am deducing that Battler and Beatrice were never truly saved and the tragedy continues to repeat in an endless loop. Sigh. If only I had some witch powers and put forth my red truth statements to get it straight with the answer.

As interesting as it is, I also have my fair share of confusion of everything that is going on (this is not included the final episode mess that messed with my head). At least I think I understood some of the important parts for me to continue watching and keeping my eyes glued to the screen. Because I did not play the game in which this series was adapted from, it was confusing to say the least when they threw in magic, supernatural, reviving characters that are killed off to reset the story and even going back and forth between the timelines. Because the game itself as I briefly read has lots of chapters and other characters, spanning a rich story, plot and other characters that are interrelated with each other to the saga. So when they start off the first arc by killing off so many characters, I was ‘worried’ how the heck are they going to fill in the rest of the episodes? And then they had this reset thing… Oh brother.

The mix of the many characters does play an important part in shaping the story and its direction. Although I feel that mainly the adults and the servants suffer from lack of character development because usually many of them are being killed off as sacrifice at the start of each arc. Besides their greed to take over Kinzou’s wealth, each of them has an interesting and dark past that just begs to be explored. Like Battler’s family, Rudolf taking on Kyrie as his second wife after Asumu’s death. If Battler is not even Asumu’s son, then whose son is he to? You must be wondering who is Maria’s father and thus Rosa’s husband then. If you want to trace out the family tree, I believe it is going to be quite a complicated matter. What about Kanon’s real name? Despite with lots of interesting characters (heck, why did they even introduce a new character, Gaap in the final game?), it is sad to see that it suffers from developing them further for the sake of the confusing plot. But if that is how the game is played, so be it.

Maria is one of the more prominent characters in the series although her character was dormant in the middle arcs. At first, this loli comes off as both cute and annoying. Whenever she is looking all cute, you can’t help feel you want to cuddle and squeeze her. And then when she goes into her childish retard mode (“ugh-ugh-ugh-ugh-ugh…” Just stop it already!), you just feel like wanting to strangle her to keep her mouth shut. And then you feel bad when you see Rosa do the job for you. Child abuse not good… However at certain times, she will be as creepy as f*ck that it scares the heck out of you. I can say that Maria is a character that is all cute, annoying and creepy all at the same time. You wonder why the rest do not start fearing her when she goes into her creepy witch mode. Shouldn’t they suspect something is wrong? Like, is she being possessed? Maybe they don’t believe in the supernatural because money is on the mind of the adults. Perhaps everyone knows about Maria’s tendency to believe in witches and her acting is just part of her witch act and thus nobody is really alarmed or found it strange when she became Beatrice’s messenger.

Ever since the revelation that Kinzou has died before the family gathers, it throws even further questions like who the heck is this guy who is masquerading as Kinzou? And if there were 17 instead of 18 people on the island, doesn’t that statement itself show that Kinzou is not part of this number? Then who the heck is he? Wait. Don’t tell me. He is a witch and a supernatural just like Beatrice as such characters do not count in the number of people on Rokkenjima. Because when you see this guy summoning the demons for his bid, I guess it makes sense that Kinzou wasn’t human to begin with. But then again, when you have Kanon being able to use magical blades and George and Jessica able to pull off magical barrier moves, it is certainly more than meets the eye.

I have a feeling that Battler is this anime’s version of Phoenix Wright. He is like the supernatural version of that attorney series. I won’t go so far to say that he is amazing in coming up with reasons to deny Beatrice’s magical murders because there are times where he is stuck in a rut and it took some sort of unbelievable supernatural phenomenon to get him back on his feet. I mean, in the second game he was dead but then revived thanks to his returned motivation. Isn’t this ironically like supernatural itself? But you can’t blame him for scratching his head and going crazy trying to find the right logical answers as Beatrice keeps spamming stuffs in which everybody would have taken the easy way out and accept it is magic. Like Santa, huh? So to end it and show his ‘brilliance’, I guess that is why they rushed the final episode by spamming him countering Beatrice’s motives after motives. Even so, I think those answers could have easily been overwritten and denied had she just used her red truths. Something tells me Beatrice is letting him win just to end it but like Bernkastel and Lambdadelta having ulterior motives, even throwing in that Ange side distraction and freeing Maria from the Golden Land seem like a very big elaborated scheme that boils down to this. Oh well. Battler, you’ll have to live up to your name by continuing to battle Beatrice for eternity.

Now, I have not watched the other When They Cry series, namely the 2 seasons of the Higurashi series as well as its spin-off. However something tells me that there are lots of elements and trivia that fans could spot borrowed from that series making its cameo here. What made me say this is when Bernkastel first appeared, I thought she looked like a character from Higurashi. I know I said I have not watched any single episode of that show but of course I have seen pictures from it and ironically, I remember the looks of some of the characters. In fact as I found out, Bernkastel indeed looks like a character from Higurashi and is also voiced by the same character! Therefore, it led me to believe that other than trying to understand and solve the mystery of this show, fans of the series can get extra pleasure from spotting Higurashi trivia all over the place.

Art and drawing seems pretty okay. Nothing to shout about since there are quite some good looking characters so well yeah, I can’t really complain. Seeing 2009 isn’t far away but far enough to be considered ‘old’ in today’s standards, I guess the animation is pretty decent and satisfy the conventional standards of that time. As said, there are many trivia with the Higurashi series and some of the characters do borrow closely their designs from there. But is it me or does Sakutaro look like Bleach’s Kon? Also to note is that there is some amount of blood and gore in this series especially when the murders and killings occur. It is so gross that it had to be purposely censored out with a mosaic. I believe this is taken away in the DVDs? But some scenes are not censored like Beatrice’s death stabbing scene that has blood just gushing out like as though she is a fountain.

There are many famous seiyuus lending their voices to this series. At least there are lots of them that I instantly recognized. Most notably, Sayaka Ohara as Beatrice. I believe that of all the villainess roles that she has voiced, this is considered to be one of the best and could in fact be the best of the lot. She is very fitting in her role as the devilish Beatrice, enjoying tormenting the pawns in her game. Kudos and good job to her. Another notable one is Yui Horie is Maria. Throughout her illustrious voice acting career, none has ever come close to making her character as cute, annoying and creepy all at the same time. At least, for all the animes that I have watched her voiced in. Sometimes when she gets too creepy, it makes me wonder if this is the same Yui Horie that I know of. Speaking of which, I was having this dilemma if Rie Kugimiya was the voice behind Shannon. It sounded like her minus her tsundere voice but I was still doubtful it could be somebody else that sounded closely to her. True enough, it was her alright.

The rest of the other recognizable casts include Daisuke Ono as Battler, Marina Inoue as Jessica, Kenichi Suzumura as George, Ami Koshimizu as Rosa, Yu Kobayashi as Kanon, Juurouta Kosugi as Krauss, Rikiya Koyama as Rudolf, Tomokazu Sugita as Ronove, Yukari Tamura as Bernkastel, Rina Satou as Ange and Koji Yusa as Amakusa. Those that I missed out and couldn’t recognize perhaps due to lack of screen time presence include Youko Hikasa as Satan, Aki Toyosaki as Asmodeus and Eri Kitamura as Siesta 410. For the umpteenth time, isn’t that Kikuko Inoue behind Virgilia’s voice? And Minori Chihara behind Sakutaro? Really? That was her? Yuki Kaida is Gaap? I thought Kinzou sounded familiar but I couldn’t recall his name until I made a little reference. It’s Mugihito behind the family head. Wow. That is indeed a lot of stars that I recognized.

For the rest of the seiyuus that I don’t recognize (sorry) and just out of respect I’ll list them out here. They include Miki Itou as Eva (Fujimura in Fate series), Emi Shinohara as Natsuhi (Sailor Jupiter in Sailormoon series), Atsuko Tanaka doubling as Kyrie and Kasumi (Caster in Fate series), Masashi Hirose as Hideyoshi (Rikishiman in Kinnikuman series), Akihiko Ishizumi as Nanjou (Shioizumi in Asura Cryin’), Fuyuka Oura as Lambdadelta (Ren in To Love-Ru series), Masato Funaki as Genji (Mosqueda in Bleach), Hitoshi Bifu as Gouda (Buccha in Air Gear), Yasuko Hatori as Chiyo (Mira in Blade & Soul), Ayano Niina as Mammon (Lisette in 11eyes), Madoka Yonezawa as Leviathan (Ui in K-ON!), Yuka Saitou as Lucifer (Tamamo in Daitoshokan No Hitsujikai) and Seiko Yoshida as Belphegor (Kyousuke in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica).

The opening theme, Katayoku No Tori by Akiko Shikata is as weird as it can get but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sound good. Although it feels befitting of the madness of the series, it is made very dramatic with superb choir voices in the background singing in Latin. Or is it Italian? But the more fitting song of the series couldn’t be much better than the ending theme, La Divina Tragedia – Makyoku sung by Jimang. Aside the dramatic choir voices, this song is like a mad scientist or even a mad guy singing his happy heart out at all the madness. Hearing it at first might sound weird, but after hearing it a few times, I have this strange feeling that it doesn’t sound as bad I wanted it to be and heck, sometimes I caught myself trying to sing along to his mad style! Creepy?

Overall, this series isn’t a bad one but the confusion over what is going on sometimes left me stumped at times and it can get a little frustrating. Especially the very disappointing way they ended the series, it feels like leaving a bad aftertaste in the mouth. But thankfully it is not as bad to the point where I would be suffering from severe migraine effects and will not be able to think for a few days. Worse than a hangover. Sorry, I was exaggerating. Maybe the witches healed my headache to understand this mess? Nah. Hah. So I don’t believe in magic? Of course I do. The magic of anime! That itself is the red statement of truth!

Gakkou Gurashi

February 7, 2016

Let’s say that the zombie apocalypse is here, what do you do? Do you quickly take action and provisions to survive by beating up zombies while trying to get to safer places and secure resources like how you mostly see in zombie survival movies and games? Or do you continue to live your life and start hallucinating all this never happened? The latter might sound dangerous and baffling but that is what is happening in Gakkou Gurashi. I suppose to cushion the harsh impact of reality, a group of girls continue to live their everyday happy school life like normal. Zombies? What zombies? Those are their everyday friends, classmates, schoolmates and teachers running and going about in school. So what zombies are you talking about? Well, I’m sure it is fine to avert their eyes from reality but seriously, you wonder how long this will last. How long will the bubble hold before bursting? How long before their brains become zombie chow? Oops… Don’t mean to be grim but hey, isn’t that what all zombie apocalypse is? Because no zombies are going to get up from their grave and do a Thriller dance with Michael Jackson. Aaow! Hehee!!!

Episode 1
Yuki Takeya wakes up and makes her way to school with her little pet dog, Taroumaru. She makes her way to the School Life Club where her other friends are waiting, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, Yuuri “Rii” Wakasa and Miki “Mii” Naoki. Rii makes breakfast for all of them before Yuki has to excuse herself for class duty. Along the way she passes by teacher, Megumi “Megu” Sakura whom she teases is fairly easy to miss. Yuki isn’t exactly your honour student. She’s sleeping right in the middle of class. When Mii barges in to talk to her, Yuki had to excuse herself to the infirmary by faking she isn’t well. It seems Taroumaru is missing so they need to go find him. But the dog is smart and really gives them the chase around school, disrupting various classes in session. They thought they had him cornered at the rooftop but Kurumi accidentally opens the door. The chase continues. Because they’re stepping all over the rooftop garden patches, Rii goes into her angry mode and remind them about the role model they have to be here. But cheeky Taroumaru is on the loose again and this means Yuki and Mii have to continue chasing him till they finally put him on a leash. Somehow it was Yuki’s fault in not taking Taroumaru for a walk yesterday which resulted in his hyper activeness. While Mii tries her best to get Taroumaru for her, that dog never bats an eyelid for her. Try again next time… Then we have Yuki making her heartfelt speech about how much she loves them all. She returns to class and describes to her classmates about Taroumaru’s recent naughtiness and they thought she was describing her kinky perverted boyfriend! Now for a dose of reality. When Mii barges into class to call out to Yuki, it seems in reality the class is in ruins. There is nobody around and Yuki is just talking to herself. Her friends, figment of her imagination. Outside the entire school and probably the entire world is overrun by zombies. But Yuki continues to see the pretty skies and clean surroundings… Creepy? And I mean the girl.

Episode 2
Kurumi remembers she joined the athletics and track club because of a guy she likes. But it looked like he raped her. She still reels from this nightmare today. As usual, Rii cooks breakfast for all and after Yuki leaves, Mii mentions about her worry for Yuki as she saw her talking to her ‘friends’ again. She thinks she is in danger as there is one time she wants to go home. But Rii assures her that Megu is with her. They are not psychiatrist and the best they could do now is watch over her as it is unfair to tear someone away from a life they enjoy. They wonder how far this infection has gone. There might be hope to be rescued if their town is isolated but they are unsure if the world is already infected by now. Kurumi sees a lone zombie walking closely at the border of the safe zone. She distracts it so she can smack it with her shovel. However thoughts of her ex-love distracted and almost had her killed. Since it is the summer, Yuki wants to do kimodameshi. So at night, they climb out of the safe zone and make a stop at the store (still loaded with goodies) before proceeding to the library. Oddly when night falls, the zombies disappear. But there is one lurking in the library so when Megu and Yuki spot it, Yuki is on the verge of panic but Megu guides her to be calm as they hide and not make a sound. She assures Yuki her friends will come to her aid. Rii and the rest distract the zombie away with their sound before Kurumi strikes it with her shovel. Yuki is reunited with her friends and they praise her for staying calm. They make their way back. Kurumi remembers her crush turned into a zombie and she had no choice but to kill him. Although she wakes up in cold sweat deep in the night, Yuki’s soothing call of her name calms her down and she returns to sleep.

Episode 3
Megu narrates the events on that fateful day. As usual she wakes up and makes her way to school, not noticing the many ambulances and police cars passing by. She’s pretty occupied about her mom thinking she’s not fit to be a teacher and the vice principal reinforces that as he thinks she is too friendly with students. Megu oversees Yuki doing a retake of her test and at the same time gives Kurumi some love advice. When she gets a distressing message from her mother, it is a video clip of the chaos happening. Isn’t this very close to where she is? As Yuki wants to go home, Megu brings her to the rooftop instead where Rii tends to the garden of her horticulture club. Shortly, she receives a call from her colleague to stay safe at the rooftop and not let anyone in before succumbing to her fate. There is a loud banging on the door and Megu starts fearing the worse. But since it is the voice of Kurumi, she lets her and her heavily injured boyfriend in. They look over the horizon. The chaotic scene. People turning into zombies and infecting the rest. There are explosions and fire in the distance. It’s getting traumatic for Yuki. When the zombies start banging on the door, they shove a locker to block them. That is when Kurumi’s boyfriend awakens as a zombie and attacks her. In her instinct, she picks up her shovel and repeatedly beats his head. This devastating scene is only put to a stop when Yuki hugs her crying. Megu ends the narration that many people may have lost their lives but as long as she is here, she wants to keep the girls safe. Yuki wants to go camping. Don’t worry. It’s not out in the woods. Just a tent in one of the classrooms. Since it’s not appropriate to talk ghost stories, how about love stories? Yuki is bugging Kurumi as the latter mentions about her consoling her after she broke up with her crush. Yuki doesn’t quite remember it. The thought of all of them will be graduating crosses Yuki’s mind. However she feels sad that Megu will still be here. Mii notes that they all love Megu very much.

Episode 4
As they look through Mii’s picture album, they spot somebody else she drew. It is her friend, Kei Shidou. Now to go back to the events of that day from Mii’s perspective. Their class ended early so Mii and Kei hang out at the mall. They meet Taroumaru who belonged to an old lady. Suddenly the panic alert is sounded and before they know it, dead bodies and zombies start piling up. They hide in the changing room and that’s when Taroumaru come to them. They thought it is injured as there is blood on him but they realize it belonged to granny who is now a zombie. For the next few days, they hole up in some storeroom. There are enough rations to keep them going as they wait for help. Unfortunately help never arrived. However Kei expresses her wish to leave because eventually they can’t be staying here although Mii objects. Besides, how would help know if they are here? Then one day she just decides to leave and leaves her CD player in Mii’s care. After she’s gone, Taroumaru can’t stop barking so Mii yells at it to shut up before realizing she overdid it. Maybe that’s how doggie got scared of her. Meanwhile back at school, Yuki also wants to go outside but Rii mentions about the club’s policy that they cannot leave school. But what if it is for a field trip? It has never been done before and what better way for their club to set a precedent. Besides, Yuki already wrote a letter to Megu and she gave her permission. As Megu hasn’t driven in a long time, looks like Kurumi will do it. First, she has to run all the way to the car park while smacking zombies. It took her a while to recognize Megu’s care. Once all of them are in, they bust out of the school like as though it is a happy ending from a movie. Oh, can Kurumi drive? She got the skills from playing video games. Oh sh*t… Hang on, girls. Megu, so sorry for your car…

Episode 5
Taroumaru is also gone. Mii thought it was him banging at the door but it turns out to be a zombie. She continues waiting since Kei promised she’ll come back with help. Yuki and co arrive at the mall as part of their field trip. They go to various sections to get necessary stuffs. This is when Kurumi bumps into Taroumaru as he follows her back to the rest. Yuki takes an instant liking for him. After they had their fun trying outfits (hey, technically they have the entire mall to themselves), when they pass by the cinema, Kurumi heard a different kind of sound. She thinks it is not a zombie and most probably Taroumaru’s owner. As she peeks into the cinema hall, there are lots of zombies waiting. Now they have to run! Yuki starts falling into trauma but luckily they take refuge in a children’s area for Yuki to rest. Kurumi mentions the cinema was barricaded in to keep the zombies out. This means one of the people was already infected. Kurumi wants Rii to promise to take her out if she ever gets infected. Mii heard some sort of commotion and starts packing her bags to leave. However there are zombies everywhere. Yuki and co are about to leave the mall when she hears some sort of voice. She wants to go back and check but the rest thinks she is hearing things. Taroumaru breaks free and the rest follows him back in. When Mii is trapped on a piano (I suppose zombies can’t climb), she yells out for help. That is when the rest sees her. Yuki becomes desperate to save her but it is Kurumi who is doing all the shovel smacking action. Then Rii releases some loud alarm accessory to confuse the zombies. The girls take this chance to escape out. Mii asks if they have seen a girl her age but unfortunately no.

Episode 6
Mii is brought back to school. She learns Taroumaru was the one that lead the girls to save her although doggie still hates her. Yuki and Megu take her tour around the school. Yuki really likes the idea of Mii treating her as a senior. Mii thought the school is unaffected but when Yuki takes her to the music room, despite Yuki as we know acts as though nothing happened, Mii sees the decimated blood soaked room. But there is one pressing question Mii has to ask Yuki: Who is Megu? OMG! Megu is another figment of her imagination?! Later Rii and Kurumi explain the purpose of their club and how Megu was their teacher. She is gone now. In their attempt to escape, she sacrificed herself to block out the zombies. They made a grave on the rooftop in honour of her. So Yuki isn’t seeing ghosts of Megu. To her, everything has never happened. Megu is still alive in her eyes. That is why she continues to cheerful attends class and activities. Rii wants Mii to play along while she is here. Although Mii doesn’t like the idea, she agrees in hopes to understand Yuki better. Then Yuki comes up with an idea for having a sports day. Mii couldn’t understand the need to do such ‘useless’ thing but as agreed, she has to play along. Later Kurumi talks to Mii about Yuki who comes up with things right when they need it most. Like the field trip to the mall. Although it is good to think about the future but sometimes it gets them nowhere. Of course it is also not good not to plan. Somehow Yuki is the one who has the answer that is neither acting nor thinking is the right choice. Mii tastes a good meal for the first time and somewhat feels relieved that she would rather have Yuki acting like Megu is still around. She remembers Kei’s words before she left about being her life being so important that she was willing to spend her life stuck here. Back then she was just merely existing than truly living. Mii feels she can look up to Yuki as her role model. Later Mii pleads to Rii that she wants to join this club. Without hesitation, Rii extends her hand and welcomes her.

Episode 7
Mii starts seeing shades of Kei in Yuki. Although Yuki continues to have ‘nightmares’ of Megu, Rii is more concerned about the coming winter. Yeah. Winter is coming. As they eat breakfast, the talk about the car ride then suddenly has Yuki conflicting with her memories. Megu’s car only had 4 seats and if they picked Mii back… Oh dear… The trauma is starting to creep up so Yuki quickly goes to ‘ascertain’ the event by ‘asking Megu’. Maybe it is Megu’s ghost or just her figment of imagination as Megu calms her down and saying people tend to have vague memories. That is why she talks to others and keeps a diary. That way the vague memories can be visited again. Even when one is no longer around. Yuki returns to her ‘normal’ self again. When they find a stationery set, Yuki gets an idea to write letters. But since they cannot go out to the post office, Rii suggests sending straight from school via balloons and pigeon. I guess Kurumi is going to have some fun trying to catch a pigeon. Catch the pigeon, catch the pigeon! Mii comes back with a helium tank. So the girls write a few letters and Yuki writes one about all of them graduating. That night, Mii talks to Rii and shows her a key belonging to Megu’s staff safe she found. Rii keeps it in hopes they’ll get out of here one day. Next day, the girls are ready to send their letters. However Yuki and Kurumi get into a dispute about naming their pigeon so Rii has them compromise with the name Arnaud Hatonishiki the Second. Arnaud what? They happily release the balloons and pigeon as they flutter away in the wind. One of the letters is written from Mii to Kei, addressing how she is fine and making new friends. She points out Kei was right as life outside is wonderful. She hopes they’ll cross paths again one day.

Episode 8
Yuki is trying to catch Taroumaru to bath after he got dirty. But since they’re making a mess all over the halls, Rii isn’t going to be pleased… The girls talk about graduation and the things they’ll be doing after that. Not sure whether Rii was hallucinating too because she was talking to Megu and they came up with the idea of forming a School Life Club in which Megu instantly made her the president. They select the student council office as their clubroom and to commemorate the founding of this club, they take pictures. As Megu is their advisor and must not be left out too, Rii takes a group picture of her. Megu turns out in the picture. Not hallucination? That night, Mii talks to Rii about how this school is strangely equipped with very good equipment from solar panels to emergency food supplies. Like as though it is prepared for people to live here for extended periods of time. Rii is also curious and believes Megu’s key might hold the answer. They go search the staff room and Yuki joins in when she thinks it is some sort of treasure hunt. However she keeps fooling around and it makes Rii sad. She is holding that photo of Megu and wonders if Yuki has forgotten what happened after that. Turns out that photo is real but shortly after that, the zombie attack and we all know what happened to her. Just as they’re about to give up, Yuki thinks she has found it. The cupboard they had checked and found nothing, it seems it contained a hidden panel. Ah, a safe. Inside contains a safe and some list. However Rii is shocked to see a manual about emergency evacuation and wants Mii to wake up Kurumi right now. As they read, they find the contents shocking. Something to do with biological weapon and methods on how to tackle the survival of the human race like quarantine and discarding certain emotions.

Episode 9
Instead of cracking their heads over it, why not just enjoy the next day cleaning the pool? Water basin actually but what difference does it make? It all started when the girls minus Yuki were talking about this manual and if Megu knew about all this. Signs pointed that she didn’t as instructions said to only open when an outbreak occurs. They go through the manual and see blueprints of underground shelters they never knew existed. That is when Yuki comes in and suggests cleaning the pool since Taroumaru once again got dirty (the basin is filled with algae since nobody tended it but the fish still live, though). So after cleaning it, they have lots of water fun. Mii notices how Rii is very familiar with the school’s solar panels and sophisticated water filters. As an active member of the horticulture club, it only makes sense that the club members know these things to grow their crops. They soon talk about how this school is so well equipped that perhaps the outbreak was in fact predicted. However Kurumi will not have them talk this since they’re here to have fun. So back to the pool and even a water gun fight showdown between Kurumi and Rii. At the end of the day, Taroumaru doesn’t hate Mii as much before. Making some progress. Deep into the night when everyone is sleeping, Taroumaru wanders off to the basement. He starts barking at a familiar zombie approaching… OMG… Megu?!

Episode 10
Mii notices Rii is sad on rainy days. It was the day that they lost Megu. After the outbreak as they set up barricades and expand their territory, they got careless. At that time they didn’t know the behaviour pattern of the zombies. Seems they love to take shelter when it is raining. The zombies surround them and Megu sacrificed herself for them to escape. That was also when Yuki changed her behaviour. They also notice the number of zombies has increased. When Yuki comes in to look for Taroumaru and the dog is nowhere to be found, they decide to look for it. Kurumi remembers memories of Megu while looking. Then she sees Taroumaru’s paw marks leading to the basement. Fearing the worst, she heads down and thought the dog is safe. To her horror, it starts attacking her. The shovel saved her a few times as sad Kurumi distracts him and locks him up in a room. She wants to seek revenge on the zombie that did this to him. Well, I’m sure she would have smacked the zombie had she not be Megu. Her mind is playing tricks. Kurumi thought of killing her but she just can’t. That moment of hesitation is just all it takes. When Kurumi returns to the rest, seems she is already wounded. She apologizes to the rest as they start trying to treat her wound. Kurumi is in great pain. Although not fully transformed yet, you can see her skin starting to. From the way she says things, Mii is devastated that Taroumaru might have succumbed to his fate too. Kurumi continues to experience horrifying nightmares. Luckily she is chained and handcuffed to the furniture. Rii is in a dilemma whether to kill her or not. Mii read the manual that the shelter where Megu was spotted from contained medicine. Mii wants to go check on it although Rii vehemently objects. Mii says Kurumi faltered because Megu was there. It won’t affect her. But as Mii picked up the shovel, thoughts of Taroumaru run through her head. Now she breaks down. Can’t do it too, huh? As the rain grows stronger, the zombies from outside now break in and could even topple the reinforced barrier. As for Yuki, reality may be starting to sink in…

Episode 11
Zombies are now all over the place. Mii could have been done for had not Yuki come to her rescue and then seek safety in a classroom. As the zombies mess around with everything, the power is now cut. Mii wants Yuki to goof off like usual but Yuki feels being insulted. This gives Mii the courage to head down and get the medicine. Don’t leave without the trusty shovel. She wants Yuki to stay here in case Taroumaru returns. You know that’s not going to happen, right? Mii realizes that she is not strong enough to smack the zombies dead. So it tells you the monstrous strength Kurumi had, eh? Mii uses Kei’s CD player and other sound diversion tactics to slip pass the zombies. Meanwhile Rii is close to becoming crazy. She remembers talking to Kurumi if those zombies had awareness. Kurumi didn’t think so because it wouldn’t feel right. That is why Kurumi wants her to promise if that ever happens to her… So is Rii ready to kill her? Mii is at the basement. Ah, there Megu is standing right in the middle like the final boss. Mii runs back out and apparently zombies can’t duck since the shutter is only halfway open. Mii takes this opportunity to tell Megu how her students are doing. And because they’re living just fine, now she can rest in peace. Mii gathers all her strength and smacks Megu’s head. Finally she finds the medical supplies but looks like the electricity is totally out and the place is now going into reserve mode. The zombies have gathered here and Mii locks herself in the room where Taroumaru was trapped (oddly he just ran out when she opened). This situation reminds her of the mall. Could it be history repeating itself? Rii of course cannot do it and is on the verge of losing herself. She screams for somebody to help her (it’s not going to make Kurumi’s pain any better anyway). That is when something inside Yuki wakes up. Megu’s ghost encourages and guides Yuki to the broadcast room in her bid to save her friends. Along the way, Yuki relives memories and past visions of her. Some memorable, some heartbreaking. Each one of them has Megu giving Yuki words of encouragement and the strength to go on. Finally when Yuki has come to terms with reality, she says her goodbye to Megu and moves on.

Episode 12
Yuki fights her way through the zombies but eventually their numbers are too many. Just as she is about to become zombie food, Taroumaru saves her. Despite little doggie having retained bits of his memories, eventually he starts attacking her. She uses her hat to cover his face as she hugs and laments how cold he is. Arriving at the broadcast room, she announces that school is over while narrating her love for this school. As they have deduced the zombies may have some sort of attachment to the living, like why zombie students continue to return to school because they love it, it’s like they don’t have their minds anymore but there’s something deep down inside that makes them want to return. Yuki’s announcement closes on a sad note that all good things must come to an end and hopes to see everyone again one day. Next morning, Kurumi wakes up fine. A jab has been administered into her arm. Looks like she is very much healed. You can see how relieved everyone is. Making it even sweeter is also the fact Taroumaru is also healed. Mii is very grateful to Taroumaru and promises to take care of him, etc. Unfortunately Taroumaru steadily weakens and it comes to a shock everyone that he passes on. They bury him next to Megu’s plot. Yuki now clearly remembers Megu’s last words that she was glad to be their teacher. That is why they don’t have to be strong and hold back their sadness. She wants Mii to remember Taroumaru’s last words. Did that dog speak? No, but you can tell from his eyes during his last moments he was saying thank you. Time to let the tears flow freely again.

The girls analyze their situation and know their limited resources and backup power will not last. They also discovered a map that marks another evacuation centre that is situated near some university and big corporation. They believe Megu was working hard to leave them this clue. The only worry is that if there are other survivors and would they be welcomed. Worst case is that they will be a lot worse than the infected. Yuki interrupts by showing bite marks on some food label. It is too small to be from Taroumaru so they think there must be another dog. They believe that dog must be hiding in the basement, the reason why Taroumaru went down there in the first place. As they have made up their mind to leave this school, Rii says their last activity is to hold a graduation ceremony. In this low key self prepared ceremony, our girls take this rite of passage to graduate and say goodbye to this school. Mii begins with her speech followed by Yuki. And of course, more tears. Only a zombie can remain emotionless in such times, right? The quartet now hop onto the car and start their journey. Oddly, the area is still clear of zombies. Except one lone zombie making her way into school. It is greatly hinted (although not confirmed) that she might be Kei. We see the other dog at Taroumaru’s grave and a survivor picking up one the dropped balloon letters about the girls.

In A World Of Their Own
It is hard for me to pinpoint exactly my sentiments. Overall, seeing how the girls go about in their continued fantasy of normalcy somehow feels draggy and boring. It is only those nail biting moments when they are having close shaves and encounters with zombies that it becomes ‘exciting’ and heart pounding. Of course there are some interesting bits like why the school is fully equipped like as though it is anticipating such disaster and who are the ones responsible behind this if this epidemic is not a mere accident and what would they stand to benefit from doing this. Unfortunately, not having them answered by even a single bit and raising our curiosity and intriguing level to all time high is what I personally feel makes this series a letdown. Even with that kind of ending of our girls taking their first step to leave the shelter didn’t offer any sort of closure whatsoever. It’s like a new chapter of their life is beginning. Interested to know more? Wait for the next season then, buddy. Yeah. That kind of feeling. After all, nobody ever said this show was about going to be a happy ending despite ‘ending’ so, right? Heck, I thought in my worst case scenario of lazy writing, everything is just a hallucination and that the kids are all high on drugs! No sh*t!!! Yeah, sweet dreams to them…

To be fair, this isn’t entirely a horror genre so we’re not going to turn this into another bloody sexy High School Of The Dead clone. After all, killing zombies isn’t the main goal of these girls. This isn’t your usual cute girls doing cute things trope either as it weaves some dark elements into the theme. I mean, smashing zombies aren’t something we can call cute, right? To say it provides an insight on what to do whenever you are trapped in a certain location during a zombie apocalypse isn’t entirely accurate either. Because as already stated, the school is equipped with state of the art facilities and it is like heaven for those who wish to live the safe but boring life. Therefore what the girls are doing by living out their daily life to the fullest is what I feel the best for them. There is any lack of information about the epidemic and how far it has spread so instead of being little heroes that history will never recognise (because there won’t be anyone around to record them!), might as well live their happy life in this little delusion of theirs. That is for the best if you look at the situation that is in store for them.

There are heart pounding moments when the girls come close to the zombies are when the hordes are close enough to turn them into dinner. I suppose this is to jolt you up from the streak of boringness and to remind us from time to time about reality. It’s like fantasy and reality just living next to each other and a thin door just separating them as reality continues to knock hard. It gets really close when Kurumi screws up. But I guess she holds out long enough for the medicine to reach her. Yeah, after hours of screaming and turning your best friend psycho. Phew. Close shave, eh? Can’t fathom a group without her, right? It would be just shocking and vile just to kill a character off like that even though if we just sufficiently love the characters. Eventually if the characters are not much, you can’t help root for them to stay alive and hope they come out in one piece after one horrifying encounter after another.

In a way, seeing them live from day to day as shown means we don’t get enough back story of the characters very much. Most probably all of them are just ordinary girls until this zombie wave came about. They get stronger for each day they survive and of course without any doubt, their friendship and bond growing close and solid. They have to. There are nobody else left alive near them so unless you want to be friends with zombies, you better be on good terms with your friends. Because if you think about it, the most dangerous thing to human’s survival isn’t the zombies but your fellow other human. A thinking human with ulterior motive is very much dangerous, right? You get the idea but we’re not here to discuss about that.

So for our main characters, I guess for a bunch of middle school girls, they really do a good job in surviving this long. Despite their seemingly delusional lifestyle, each of them are in a way ‘broken’. You might think they need psychiatric help but too bad there aren’t any shrinks around at this moment. So it’s like substituting their stolen childhood with this? At least it is free therapy :). Though, they only have one shot at it. At first Yuki might seem like an annoying retard for her tendency to avert her eyes from reality and continue frolicking in her happy dream world. Sometimes it gets to you that you want to smack her head for her to wake up and face reality. But then again, if she could handle reality, would she not have gone into such a mode? This is the best way for her to handle the trauma of whatever is going on. She is after all just a little girl and for her to and her friends to be exposed to such atrocities at a tender age, I think it is best for her to stay delusion until she is ready and strong enough to move on. Yuki is also the mood setter of the group thanks to her very cheerful disposition. She is also like the luck goddess because the on-the-spot decision she makes without any thinking has saved the girls a handful of times.

The shocking thing (and probably the most shocking of all twists) was learning that Megu was already dead. There were a few hints that nicely indicated that there was something odd about her. Like why her faint presence is the running joke of the series, why nobody bothers to correct themselves to call her Sakura sensei instead of Megu-nee despite her constant gentle reminders, why she never joins the girls together in many of the activities and the damning revelation is why she let Kurumi drive her car instead of driving it herself. So if you put all this clues together, it particularly makes sense that Megu is no longer around. But I keep wondering if she is still indeed around in the form of a ghost that continues to help and guide Yuki. Sometimes it might be a figment of her imagination but sometimes it sounds ‘too real’ for Yuki to have that sort of imagination. Personally I want to believe she is in her ghost form but because Megu turned into a zombie as seen, it makes me wonder if she can take on a spirit form considering being a zombie is neither alive nor dead. The undead. So technically can your soul pass over if you are a zombie? Hmm… Something to chew on. Not brains, mind you! Generally, Megu is a very nice teacher that everybody would love to have. She’s been there for Yuki physically or not and has guided her out of a lot of sticky situations. Even if she knows about this epidemic one way or another, my guess is that she still wants to help them and would even sacrifice her life for it.

I suppose every group must have the ‘muscle’ person so Kurumi closely fits that description. Having a shovel in hand has become a trademark and it feels really odd to see her without one. Or her without her twintail hairstyle. I am assuming that since she has played driving video games, she must have played shooting games as well. Because I’m thinking if she had a gun, she would be doing Resident Evil style in killing zombies, blasting off their heads. That would be much easier and badass, wouldn’t it? While Rii starts off as a very cool and calm person (even when being very angry and threatening, her calm demeanour but deadly aura will scare the hell out of you), a big sister that keeps the group together, most probably it is her way of dealing with the trauma of the current events by bottling up her feelings. And then when the possibility of Kurumi becoming a zombie comes hitting home, she starts losing it. All that pent up emotions maybe just exploded like a time bomb. Mii I thought she would fare better if she smiled more often but seriously, who could keep up a smile in this zombie apocalypse? Oh, the other club members are doing just fine smiling… Mii might be passive in many ways but she is still an important member of the club. Every living member is important. So it was really sad to see they had to kill off an intelligent doggie like Taroumaru. Hmm… Maybe they want a change of mascot and will pick up some other little furry along the way.

As Kei once said herself, it is better to try living than just existing. That is probably the best advice that anyone has said in such a desperate time. What is life if you do not live it to the fullest? What is life if you do not live it like on the edge? Kei’s true fate is unknown but even if she has gone to become one of the zombies, I’m sure she had a blast before succumbing. And I thought it would be a cruel joke the moment she splits from Mii, before she can ‘relish’ in her newfound freedom, she just got bitten after taking a few steps. Haha! Whoops! Sorry. That is why Mii is probably confused to see the School Life Club members doing quite ‘dangerous’ stuffs from time to time like leaving their comfort zone for a field trip and the likes. Nothing like a good adrenaline pumping, eh? Mii might be separated from Kei and who knows when they’ll ever meet again but you can bet Mii has taken up her advice to live to the fullest. Life is more thrilling that way. And you know what Forrest Gump said about life being a box of chocolates… Just no chocolates in this setting :’(.

As mentioned, this series is not about the zombies but rather how the girls live their daily lives and deal what is before them. Therefore I cannot help think about the characteristics of the zombies. It just baffles me. I don’t think they are really zombies. I believe the series has not mentioned them about being zombies. It is just me using this term to refer to those walking dead. So it is rather odd to see that you know, zombie students hanging around in school, wandering aimlessly and when it is time to go home, they disappear and go back. Go back home and do what? As assumed, they are not totally dead and still retained certain parts of their memory. Thus the reason why student zombies continue to go to school and adult zombies head to work. And since they’re like the undead, will they continue doing this routine forever? And for the medicine in the basement that Mii brought back, I am not sure if the medicine works for zombies who are already too advanced to be turned back but I guess they run out of those to try it on the rest. Yeah, she just brought back enough for the shovel woman and doggie.

The other odd thing I find about the zombies is the penchant for them to attack our main girls wherever they are. Sure, they are attracted to sound and rush over as soon as they hear the slightest faint. But there are many times when our girls happen to arrive on the scene and then the zombies start attacking. It is like they know they are not their undead comrades and do not hesitate to lunge at them. It is like they know where they are and some lie await for the right moment to spring on them. Like in a video game. Get what I’m saying? Maybe this is to add to the suspense and scare jump effect. I’m not sure if they can smell but they certainly can feel because I didn’t know that zombies don’t like the rain and try to keep out of it! After all, how much do we know about these zombies? Heck, we don’t even know how all this started? Like as though this zombie setting is an excuse to have a peek on the daily lives of a handful of middle school girls. Because from where the series is going, it isn’t going to end either. Maybe they’ll find another type of zombies and another group of survivors… Yeah, next season, buddy?

The drawing and art are rather okay. The girls are your typical cute and moe characters to enhance the cuteness of everything. Sometimes they look like they came out from those cute girls doing cute things genre and suddenly being thrown into a horror survival series. Because don’t you think a young teacher like Megu looks too cute to be a teacher? Sure, this might be the norm in animes but like I’ve said, the girls look like they just came out from some comedy and slice of life series. Interestingly, the zombies are animated using CGI. You can see the way they drag themselves one kind. Yeah well, many zombies do look the same. Do we care? So cut and paste, shall we?

Voice acting, there isn’t anything special. I guess it has come to a stage where veteran seiyuus are slowly fading away and new ones taking the centre stage. Therefore it will be some time before I start recognizing any of them. If they stand out. And hopefully when I do, they won’t go into ‘retirement’ and a new wave of seiyuus comes to the fore. So we have relatively newbies voicing the main quartet such as Minori Inase as Yuki (Suzu in Love Lab), Mao Ichimichi as Rii (Kazumi in Gokukoku No Brynhildr), Ari Ozawa as Kurumi (Nozomi in The Rolling Girls), Rie Takahashi as Mii (Kaon Lanchester in Comet Lucifer) and Juri Kimura as Kei (Eruna in Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku). Veteran Ai Kayano is the voice of Megu (Inori in Guilty Crown). You thought an animal character without any dialogue would be an uncredited role, right? Yeah, it seems they casted another veteran seiyuu to play what is seemingly the ‘easiest’ voice acting role. Well, try barking only for the entire series. I’m sure you’ll go crazy before the zombies get your brain. Yeah, Emiri Katou (Akatsuki in Log Horizon, Kagami in Lucky Star) takes on that role of that cute yapping canine. At least she won’t be turning into Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s Kyuubey. Thank goodness…

The opening theme, Friend Shitai by Gakuen Seikatsubu (basically the quartet from School Life Club) starts off with what I feel is like a zombie themed piece. Then it turns into your typical lively anime pop song. There are a few ending themes. The slow pop of Harmonize Clover and After Glow are sung by Maon Kurosaki (interestingly, although she makes a cameo by voicing a minor background character in this series, the only other series she also voiced also as a minor background character is that other school zombie themed, High School Of The Dead). Initially I thought that slow lovely 40’s-like English ballad as the insert song and special ending theme for episode 4 was sung by a Caucasian. Surprisingly, it was Kaori Sawada. Wow. She sounds sultry and good enough to be passed off like an English woman.

Overall, this show has its hits and misses and because I am still hovering between boredom (seeing too much typical moe girls genres has somewhat numbed me) and interesting (why do they have to leave the interesting bits unanswered?), I am going to take the middle ground that this anime doesn’t suck but do not put too much high hopes about it. If you are in a dilemma to want to watch series with cute daily slice of life but at the same time you want to be slightly spooked, maybe this series would have the right mix in making your heart go ~kyunnnn~ one moment and then giving you a little goosebumps the next. I don’t know. At least that is what I experienced. And I hope I don’t have to experience such terrifying zombie apocalypse ever. Because my dangerous delusions would probably kill me first before any zombies could get me. But then again, aren’t we all living in some sort of zombie apocalypse right now? Everyone is so ‘dead’ facing their Smartphones and iPhones 24/7… Well, if there is one thing that this series proves, it proves that daydreaming isn’t entirely a bad thing… P/S: I’d rather stay and wait till kingdom come in my safe zone rather than venturing out to the unknown. That’s my kind of ‘thrill’ :).

Life is like a rat race, right? Everyone is doing their best in trying to compete and outdo each other to achieve their goals in being the best or whatever materialistic achievements they dream of. How far will you go for that? Will you even kill just for the sake of achieving that? Most rational people won’t go as far as committing murder but when you’re being pushed to a corner and being tested to the limits, humans are amazing creatures that can do the impossible. Adapted from the video game of the same name, Danganronpa: The Animation is a mystery thriller and basically a whodunit. There are 15 high school students enrolled in a prestigious academy that sets you for life when you graduate. However there is a catch. You must murder someone without getting caught to graduate. Because if you are caught, you get executed. If others fail to identify you, they get annihilated and you get to graduate and go scot free. It’s a pretty interesting premise as I presume there will be lots of clues lying around for you to spot, think and guess who the culprit and the act of murder committed. Never knew a person who wouldn’t hurt a fly could kill, eh?

Episode 1
Makoto Naegi is happy he has been chosen to attend Hope Peak Academy, a school for the elite and those who graduate are guaranteed success in life. He is supposed to be a super duper high school super lucky kid but the moment he steps in, he blacks out. Bad luck? He wakes up in a room bolted with thick metal that nobody can escape. There is a note to meet at the gym for an assembly. We meet the rest of the 14 super duper high school students: Yasuhiro Hagakure (shaman), Hifumi Yamada (mangaka), Kiyotaka Ishimaru (prefect), Junko Enoshima (model), Chihiro Fujisaki (programmer), Celestia Ludenberg (gambler), Mondo Oowada (outlaw biker), Leon Kuwata (baseball player – I thought he was a painter!), Aoi Asahina (swimmer), Sakura Oogami (fighter), Touko Fukawa (bookworm), Byakuya Togami (scion), Kyouko Kirigiri (??? – WTF is this?! Super duper mystery, I guess) and Sayaka Maizono (idol). Seems Maizono recognizes Naegi because they were classmates before. He must be honoured that an idol remembers a plain guy like him. Everyone crack their brains to find out what is happening when the principal, Monokuma, a weird teddy bear announces they are going to be living in this school forever. They’ve got a big budget so don’t worry about food and other stuffs. They can scream and yell all they want, they can’t escape and nobody is going to rescue them. But there is only one way to get out of here. In order to graduate, you must kill somebody and without getting caught. Of course they don’t believe this crap. Getting rough with Monokuma is futile. Because there is a bomb in his body and there are many other clones to replace him if that body is destroyed. He lets them off with a warning because the next time, he will execute his punishment.

With the students pretty much in confusion in what to do (because some would suspect the rest would kill just to get out), Naegi tries to diffuse the tension but was punched out by Oowada instead. He wakes up in his own room with Maizono by his side. She is happy that there is someone she knows here and they vow to find a way to get out. Everyone meets again to share what they have investigated. The doors and walls are made of steel so they definitely cannot escape. Certain parts of the area are cordoned off and for now they can only check the first floor of this building. The canteen is filled with abundant food so there is less one thing to worry about. Each of their room is comfortable but you have to live with the fact there is a camera watching you. Celestia suggests that they adapt if they don’t want to kill. She proposes their own rule for night time. As some places are cordoned at night, she suggests banning wandering around during the night. Otherwise they would have to spend every night cowering in fear that they may be killed. After 3 days, everybody seems to be living normally although they’re still looking for ways to get out. Of course this is going to get boring as Monokuma mentions. He realizes why nobody has committed a murder. Because there is no motive. He has everyone enter the AV room and each of them has a CD to watch. Naegi sees his family giving him encouragement in his new school. Suddenly in the next scene, the place is devastated. What happened? He hears Maizono screaming. She can’t take this anymore and really needs to get out. I guess everybody else also saw something similar. Maizono becomes an emotional wreck but Naegi becomes her pillar of support. He promises to get them out of here. She continues to break down in his arms.

Episode 2
Everyone’s room comes with an attached bathroom, although only the girls’ one can be locked. Also, everyone has a particular gift, which turns out to be some sort of weapon they think Monokuma wants them to use to kill. Naegi’s is a samurai sword. In addition, because Naegi’s toilet door is wrongly fitted, he has to turn the knob the other way to open. Bad luck? Later Maizono comes to Naegi’s room. She is scared that she heard her door room suddenly clatter like as though somebody is trying to force it open. Worried that somebody might break that night rule, Naegi suggests sleeping in his room. But since it won’t be appropriate for them to sleep together, they’ll swap rooms for tonight. Next morning, everyone gathers at the canteen as usual. Only Maizono didn’t show up. Naegi goes to check if she’s sick. To his shock, there are sword cuts all over his room. Even shocking, Maizono is dead in his toilet!!! So sick that he passes out. He wakes up in the gym with everyone else as instructed by Monokuma. Kirigiri suggests they play along by his rules to avoid any more casualties. Naegi believes Monokuma killed Maizono but the bear refutes. He wouldn’t do anything to go against the point of this exercise. In short, Maizono was killed by one of them.

Monokuma further explains the supplementary rules to graduate. After killing a fellow student, the other students must not find out you are the culprit. Therefore, commit the perfect crime. After a certain time has passed after a murder, they’ll hold a Classroom Trial to review their performance. They will have a chance to identify the murderer. If the culprit is correctly pointed out, he will be punished for disturbing the law and order of this place. But if the guess is wrong, all the innocent students will be punished instead. Enoshima is not going to take part in this crap and beats up Monokuma. However he has warned them. Acts of violence against the principal will not be tolerated. Suddenly several spears stab into her. She’s dead. Monokuma laments a pointless death but it is needed to teach them a lesson. Good luck with the investigation. Well, this proves she isn’t the murderer. Everyone’s PDA has extra information on Maizono’s death. It is very detailed on where she died and how she died. Just short of telling who the murderer is. Of course the first person to suspect is Naegi since she died in his room. Further investigations reveal she died of a knife stab in the abdomen, the samurai sword fractured and she wrote some sort of code ‘11037’ on the wall. Naegi watches the CD that belongs to Maizono. Seems her idol group disbanded for some reason and will never flourish again. Why did they disband? Graduate to find out. Naegi wonders if Monokuma has killed them and that Maizono had nowhere to go. Because Monokuma is bored, he wants the Classroom Trial to start. Everyone makes their way down the elevator. Well, well. 13 survivors left. Who would have thought the idol and model would be the first ones to die.

Episode 3
Everyone is in the Classroom Trial. Including Maizono and Enoshima. At least their photos. Can’t exclude them from the ‘fun’ even if they’re dead, huh? The debate begins with whoever visited the kitchen and took the knife is the culprit. Asahina mentions it wasn’t Naegi because she and Oogami were at the canteen. There was one other person visiting the kitchen: Maizono. So she took the murder weapon herself? As self defence? Kirigiri doesn’t want everyone to jump to conclusion that Naegi is the murderer yet. Firstly, the toilet door. Because the boys’ room’s doors aren’t lock, the culprit wrongly thought the door cannot be opened because it was locked from the inside, thus the knob was destroyed. If it was Naegi, he wouldn’t have gone through all that trouble to open the door. Naegi believes Maizono wouldn’t open the door just for anyone because she was scared and he told her not to even if it was him. But what if she was just pretending to be scared? Kirigiri shows him a note in his room from Maizono. It states for somebody to come to her room (Naegi’s). I’m sure any guy wouldn’t resist an invitation from an idol. But when they swap rooms, the plate on their door would also have swapped. Since Maizono was the only other person who knows about the room swap, Togami deduces Maizono wanted to commit murder and blame it on Naegi. Her plan failed because she allowed the culprit to fight back. She did this because she wants to get out but had the tables turned. Naegi realizes her dying message. If you rotate 11037 180 degrees, you get Leon. That is the baseball player’s name, right? Since her back is to the wall, it is only logical she wrote it that way.

Kuwata starts acting strange. Calling everything ‘idiot’. Near the incinerator there is a burnt shirt and glass sphere fragments. Because the culprit panicked he couldn’t destroy the evidence as the incinerator room was locked, the only way was to throw something to the button and open the incinerator door. Only a baseball player can hit it with accuracy. However he didn’t realize the fire burnt off the edge of the sleeve. There is another proof that proves Kuwata did it. The doorknob to the bathroom had screws taken out. What did the culprit use to unscrew them? The screwdriver in the toolset can’t be brand new. Kuwata can’t say he lost it and if he used it on something else, please tell where and how. Since Kuwata cannot rebut anymore, it’s time to vote. Kuwata is unanimously voted as the murderer. Monokuma congratulates them and indeed Kuwata is the killer. Kuwata pleads it was in self defence because Maizono tried to kill him. But a killer is still a killer. Now for his punishment. Kuwata is dragged to a special room whereby he is tied to a pole. Millions of baseballs are shot at him. Strike! Strike! Strike! How could anybody survive that? This leaves some of the survivors in despair. Especially Naegi who blames Monokuma for everything. Kirigiri wants him to cool down to avenge Maizono’s death. Later she visits his room to ask about Maizono’s final thoughts. How would he know? It is no doubt she tried to frame him. Her final thoughts were probably on how to save him. Otherwise she wouldn’t have left the dying message. Wasn’t it just to get back at Kuwata? Kirigiri notes it was Maizono’s hesitation that got her killed. Hesitating to deceive him, hesitating to kill. She is sure he can get over the deaths of his friends otherwise he won’t make it. Naegi vows he won’t forget everyone’s death or get over it. He’ll keep their deaths and desire in mind till he gets out.

Episode 4
Traces of those who died have been cleaned up properly. It’s like they are not allowed to mourn their deaths. Monokuma announces that every time those who survive the Classroom Trial, another level opens for them to explore. The second floor is now accessible and it has the library, gym and pool. At the library, Naegi discovers a letter from the principal. It seems this academy was closed down but will be opened in the future once all problems are resolved. They conclude Monokuma must have hijacked this school for his sick game. Togami thinks of playing this game and Celestia supporting him because just like other activities in society, everyone is competing in a rat race. It is no different here except they are competing to be the only successful villain. Togami is confident he will not lose and wants his rivals to take this seriously. Fujisaki thought everyone should be on the same time but was scoffed off that she too voted for Kuwata. Everyone had too or they’ll be executed. Togami’s arrogance makes Oowada mad and he wants to punch him. Togami isn’t going to waste his time doing pointless things with them. Fukawa is also going crazy, thinking everybody would care if she disappears. Asahina suggests taking a dip to cool down. Some of the girls are outside the changing room and are told by Monokuma that opposite genders cannot enter the changing room or will be shot. They can only enter via handbook. Since he didn’t think about others lending other’s handbook, he quickly makes a new rule to forbid so. Fukawa totally admires Togami because he is reading. He tells her to go bath since she stinks. She takes it as a sign of love. Naegi somehow is made to become the judge between Oowada and Ishimaru’s argument. They’re bickering because Ishimaru accuses Oowada of quickly losing his temper and resorting to violence. That’s not manly. And so they duke it out in a sauna battle. Both aren’t budging. This is going to take all night.

Next morning, Naegi finds that the both of them have become good friends and possibly brothers! What happened to the match? Didn’t they say there was no such thing as a draw? Oh, the match? Forget about it. Forgive and forget. And what’s this? Yamada becoming Celestia’s lackey? Everyone is made to assemble at the gym. Monokuma has gotten bored that nobody is killing. As motivation, he drops letters of everyone’s embarrassing secret. If no murder is committed in 24 hours, he’ll release it to the public. For Naegi, he wet his bed till fifth grade. But he doesn’t think it is enough to make them kill. Next morning, Monokuma’s announcement awakes everyone. Something has happened to one of them. Togami brings Naegi to the girls’ changing room. The door can now be open because all rooms will be accessible for them to conduct their investigation. They see Fujisaki dead and crucified. There is message on the wall: “Bloodshed fever”. Cause of death was a blow to a head, possibly a dumbbell. She died instantly. She is crucified with extension wires from the library. Oogami notices the coffee stain she spilled on the carpet yesterday is missing. Celestia last saw Fujisaki with a bag as though she was going to meet somebody. Togami thinks it is Genocider Sho behind it. A serial killer causing uproar in the media recently. He shows Naegi secret police files in the library. His residence also has such files. Togami dismisses this is a copycat act. Showing the file on Genocider Sho’s profile, he probably has dissociative identity disorder. His weapon of choice is a pair of scissors, victims are always male and leaving that blood message at the crime scene. One thing that only a few know is how he crucifies his victim. What does this mean? Could Genocider Sho be one of them? Asahina calls them as Fukawa is in trouble. She is holing up in her room and won’t speak to anyone except Togami. Now he is here, she apologizes she couldn’t keep her promise but won’t let Genocider Sho run free anymore. And now it’s time for Classroom Trial.

Episode 5
Togami tells everyone about Genocider Sho and his habits. He points out Fukawa as that killer. This bookworm who is afraid of blood is the killer? But she isn’t Genocider Sho at the same time too. Get it? Yes. Split personality. Once Fukawa faints, the crazy Genocider Sho (super duper high school murderer?! Is this even allowed?!) pops up. Although Togami points Fukawa would do anything to keep this alter ego a secret, it isn’t enough as a motive. Because Genocider Sho says she didn’t do it. Naegi believes her. Because the murder aren’t exactly how it was done. She would kill victims with scissors and not dumbbells. Also, scissors are used as crucifix not cords. And the all important clue: She only kills males. Hell she would kill anything as trivial as survival. She shows her scissors that she never leaves home without, all spic and span clean. Naegi suspects Togami because when they went to check the archives, Togami was aware of Genocider Sho’s killing method before coming here. Since Togami spends time in the library, the cord must be awfully familiar. Did he set up the corpse to pin the blame on the serial killer? But then, Naegi thinks again and this has him wonder if the murder did take place in the girls’ changing room. There is a possibility things in the room were moved. Especially the idol poster. In short, Fujisaki was killed in the boys’ changing room. How can she enter there when the rule says it’s forbidden? Simple. Fujisaki is a guy! Genocider Sho is shocked. She should have killed that cute trap! Naegi doesn’t think Togami is the killer as he looked shocked to learn Fujisaki’s real identity. Togami then admits he was the one who set up the crucifix just to test their abilities and shake up the real culprit, though he did find Fujisaki’s body in the girls’ changing room. But how did the culprit enter both rooms if the handbook rule was still enforced? Despite the rule prohibiting lending your handbook, it didn’t say anything about borrowing someone else’s. Thus the culprit is male. Discussing about Fujisaki’s tracksuit that Celestia last saw in his bag, everyone discuss the tracksuit colour when Oowada made a slip. How does he know Fujisaki’s tracksuit colour when Celestia didn’t say anything about it?

Ishimaru believes in Oowada and thinks their reasoning is wrong. So Naegi goes over what has happened. Fujisaki took the bag to go to the gym. He quickly hides it when Celestia saw him. He entered the male changing room to meet up with someone who is the culprit. After the murder, he switched stuffs around and used either Maizono or Enoshima’s handbook to enter the girls’ changing room. Oowada admits he killed Fujisaki and wants Monokuma to start the vote. Everyone except Ishimaru voted Oowada as the culprit. Correct. Oowada is indeed the killer but Ishimaru refuses to believe. Monokuma then explains why Oowada killed Fujisaki. Fujisaki was sensitive about his weakness since young. He was always called a wuss. To hide that, he cross-dressed as a girl as refuge and slowly became one. It was a secret he wanted to keep at all cost because if it was ever found out, people would give him a harder time. However the threat of exposing his secret made him want to change himself. He vowed to be manlier and thus went to the gym to work out. The one who helped him work out is Oowada as he told him his secret too. He was the image Fujisaki had in mind to be a strong man. Monokuma also lets everyone know about Oowada’s dark secret: He killed his older brother. His brother formed the greatest biker gang in Japan and naturally when he retired, Oowada took over. Because big brother was always charismatic, it put Oowada under a lot of pressure to keep up with the image. On the retirement party night, Oowada challenged him and he was reckless in getting victory at all cost. His brother saved him and got hit by an oncoming truck meant for Oowada. His last words were not to let his team fall apart. Oowada blames himself for being weak and this weakness prevented him from telling the truth. So when Fujisaki told him his, he saw the strength in him to try and overcome them. It made him jealous. The twisted kind of jealousy. Oowada snapped just to show how strong he is and killed Fujisaki. Kirigiri notes he also destroyed Fujisaki’s handbook to keep his secret from others. That’s why they couldn’t find the cross-dresser’s handbook. And now for Oowada’s special punishment. He is chained onto a bike and ride in a ball cage. Spinning so fast that he turns into… Butter?! Tastes good on your pancakes! Ishimaru becomes an emotional wreck. Lastly we see Monokuma talking to a mysterious person that is supposed to be the 16th high school student he is supposed to sneak in. But thanks to Maizono getting the ball rolling, it somewhat took away this mystery’s chance for the spotlight.

Episode 6
Asahina wanted to get doughnuts to calm herself when she thought she saw Fujisaki’s ghost! As the third floor is now accessible, Monokuma announces that he will be giving 10 billion Yen to the one who graduates. Some aren’t going to be taken in by the money but some you can see their eyes glittering. Asahina takes this time to mention about Fujisaki’s ghost. This leads them to find Fujisaki’s laptop in the changing room. They notice this is the only place without surveillance camera. They start the laptop and it seems Alter Ego, Fujisaki’s AI comes to life and interacts with them. There are lots of heavily encrypted data on this school in which Alter Ego is trying to decrypt at the moment. Alter Ego is sad that Fujisaki is dead. Ishimaru still blaming himself and wonders if Alter Ego resents him for failing to stop his bro. Somehow Fujisaki also programmed Oowada’s AI inside so he pops up to tell Ishimaru to be a man and the weight of responsibility he shoulders. He is confident he will walk again. Ishimaru is inspired by his words and is now a changed man. Did he turn into some Super Saiyan? Alter Ego shows them a picture that was decrypted. A picture of Oowada, Kuwata and Fujisaki together! Are they still alive? Aren’t they supposed to be strangers? Or could the photo be fake? Next day, the girls are reprimanding Yamada because he was talking to Alter Ego the entire night like as though the programme was his real girlfriend. I guess you can’t blame that otaku. Here comes Ishimaru claiming that big brother is his. Oh. But Yamada claims this ‘girl’ is his. Kirigiri chides them for their childishness and bans anyone to come here without permission.

However the next day, Alter Ego goes missing. It can’t be Yamada or Ishimaru who stole the laptop because Kirigiri ordered it to scream if they did so. Togami of course believes a traitor is in the midst. Next day, only Asahina, Oogami, Naegi and Kirigiri are at the canteen. Feeling suspicious, they split up to find the rest. They find Celestia unconscious. Seems she was attacked by a dodgy person with a mallet. She also mentions Yamada was kidnapped by this person. Then they find Yamada attacked by a mallet and he is bleeding. Justice Robot got him? Celestia’s digital camera proves that indeed it’s some mecha robot! Everyone splits up to find this person and then… They find Yamada’s corpse. Rooms away, Ishimaru’s corpse too! Fukawa just fainted so she’s not dead yet. Asahina is freaking out because at this rate everyone will be killed. However Togami states there can be no more murders because the rule states that no more than 2 murders can occur before the Classroom Trial. The survivors are stumped when the corpses go missing. The suspects would be Kirigiri and Hagakure since they’re not with them the entire time but since Naegi had an alibi on Kirigiri, that leaves the shaman as the suspect. They look for the bodies and finally find them in a room. Yamada is not entirely dead yet. He murmurs about remembering meeting them all long before. In his final breathe, he mentions Yasuhiro as the culprit. That’s Hagakure, right?

Episode 7
Everyone is convinced Hagakure is the killer but he might not have done it by himself and with an accomplice. The only other person who was missing then was Kirigiri. When everyone begins their investigation, Kirigiri calls them to the pool area. She shows them Justice Robot hiding inside the locker! And wait. It’ Hagakure inside it! But it’s freaking tight and held with a fastener. All Hagakure remembers was someone told him to meet up last night but got knocked out. Next thing he knew, he was inside this thing. Kirigiri is further suspected because while everyone was searching, how come she manages to find Hagakure so easily? She remains tight lipped and goes to investigate the corpses. During the Classroom Trial, it is obvious Hagakure becomes first choice suspect. Celestia shows proof of a box containing blueprints of Justice Robot and parts of it. However Naegi objects to it. The handwriting isn’t the same. Because somebody must have moved Ishimaru’s body with the trolley, obvious Hagakure couldn’t have done it as Justice Robot’s suit is very tight and he couldn’t move so freely. Even if Hagakure isn’t the suspect, this only means Kirigiri would be the one as she has no alibi. But think about it, how can she alone move Yamada’s heavy ass up the next floor? This can only mean one thing. The corpse moved himself. The first time Yamada was found, he was only pretending to be dead. Naegi observes the first time, Yamada’s glasses were covered with blood (which was probably used from the blood samples in the infirmary nearby). By the second time of his actual death, his glasses are clean. This means he wiped it to make his way there. While they were investigating, the art room was locked and this proves Yamada was the perpetrator locking it while he was moving Ishimaru’s body. Yamada hid the rest of the note (which was found in Ishimaru’s hand) in his underwear. This note which states about how he has found a way out and not to tell others, was used as a bait to lure Ishimaru and kill him. The numbered hammer was just to throw them off on their investigation. Although Yamada is an accomplice, the rule states only the real culprit will graduate. This means the real culprit tricked Yamada into helping commit this crime.

As everyone has ran out of clues, Naegi thinks back further and remembers the disparity in what Celestia said. It was at a time when they found Ishimaru’s body but have not told her about it but yet she mentioned about all of them getting killed at this rate. How does she know a second murder has occurred? What about the proof of Yamada being attacked by the robot? Really? Did he get attacked or is that Yamada just carrying it? Celestia can see they are trying to set her up as the culprit. Then cracks begin to show. Because she’s putting a crazy expression. Naegi mentions that Celestia is the only one who has not told everyone her real name. Everyone’s handbook shows their real name when it is booted up. Mind showing it to them? Game is over. Celestia smiles and admits she has lost. Everyone votes Celestia as the culprit and that is correct. Monokuma reveals Celestia’s real name is Taeko Yasuhiro! This was what happened. Celestia was the one who stole the laptop to deceive Yamada. She blames it on Ishimaru and tells him he was the one who stole it to have Alter Ego all for himself. Because Alter Ego was ordered to shout if those guys get close, Ishimaru forced her to get it (a lie of course). With a little bit more crocodile tears, Yamada is pissed off with that prefect so Celestia suggests to team up. Thus her plan involves playing dead and everything was an act. Yamada fell for this silly act because of the simple reason of love. Love can make you do crazy things. She also planned to dispose him from the start. Despite Celestia was the one who suggested them living them together from the start, it was obviously a big lie. She wants to get out of here real bad. She has a dream. Live in a big western castle and spend the rest of her days there with her countless man servants. She made a killing in the underworld already but Monokuma’s deal would just sweeten everything. However she is sad she couldn’t go all the way but only got this far. How can she say all this so calm and smile? She is proud of her ability to tell lies that she even deceived herself. If she was to be reincarnated, she’ll be the next Marie Antoinette. Celestia coolly goes to her execution. She is burnt at the stakes like a witch. But with a modern twist. The fire engine rams into her! Before that, Celestia handed Kirigiri the keys to where Alter Ego was. It was in the same room, only a different locker. Naegi is worried about Kirigiri’s mysterious ways because if she keeps acting like this, she’ll end up getting suspected. Doesn’t he suspect her too? He believes her because they’re on the same team so trust him. She takes up this trust thing of him and lets him know during one of her investigations, she found a room in the boys’ toilet with no cameras. There is a hidden passage behind one of the cubicles. Naegi sees a shelf of books and a note in the student register that says nobody must leave this place. Naegi is knocked out by a mysterious perpetrator but he still lives. He goes back down and sees Oogami having a showdown with Monokuma!

Episode 8
Monokuma reminds Oogami that he has hostages. This made Naegi conclude that Oogami is his agent. With the next level opened, some of the rooms are locked like data processing and principal’s room. But Monokuma makes a new room that breaking down locked doors are forbidden. Kirigiri asks about the secret room but it seems all the books were missing when he woke up. Kirigiri feels Naegi is hiding something from him but he can’t say about Oogami as an agent since he has no proof. So much about that trust thing, eh? Alter Ego has decrypted some files. It seems there was a plan to confine all students of Hope Peak and have them live here forever. The academy themselves came out with this plan a year ago because of an incident dubbed as The Biggest and Baddest Despair Incident in Human History when the academy almost closed down. The principal, a man in his 30’s came out with this plan and is believed to still be in this building. He might be the one controlling Monokuma. Kirigiri promises to find that man no matter what. There is another weird photo decrypted. A picture of Maizono, Celestia and Yamada smiling together. Monokuma announces everyone to gather. He reveals Oogami as his agent. She admits she is. Asahina cannot accept this for Oogami is her best friend. Besides, she could have been used. Naegi reveals he overheard the hostage thingy. Togami doesn’t believe and wants to know who the mastermind is. She doesn’t know. Then what has he put her up to? If no murder occurs, she is to kill somebody. She apologizes and will settle this herself, even if it kills her. She personally apologizes to Asahina for not telling her. At many times she did but she felt afraid she would be hated. Togami is less apologetic. He couldn’t care less if Oogami is dead since it would mean the mastermind would lose his agent. Asahina slaps him and tells him he should die instead. Fukawa is upset she slapped her pretty boy’s face and will kill her a thousand times. Kirigiri tells everyone to come down or else they will play into the mastermind’s hands.

Next day, Naegi heard Hagakure’s scream. Genocider Sho attacked Asahina. They had a little argument over Oogami. The guys take her to the infirmary but her injury is nothing big. Just a scratch. Oogami comes running in, obviously mad that Fukawa attacked her best friend instead of her. She assures she won’t do anything else but settle this. Isn’t that the same thing? Naegi wonders if Kirigiri is still mad at him. She understands about his consideration to keep quiet for not wanting to cause an uproar based on speculation. But it also means he doesn’t trust her. Alter Ego calls the duo. She wants to be plugged to an internet connection for she wants to help them get out. There may be a chance that the mastermind is watching the network but she is willing to take that chance. Naegi takes Alter Ego to the secret room behind the toilet cubicle and hooks her up. Naegi and Kirigiri are called by Asahina. Sakura is spotted sitting in the recreation room but the door is locked (blocked by a chair). Asahina is worried since she is not responding. Naegi breaks the window to remove the chair (technically, he isn’t breaking the door, right?) and to everyone’s horror, Oogami is dead. Asahina is the most surprised as she goes to call the rest. Kirigiri immediately investigates all the clues around the room and body. When everyone assembles, Asahina accuses Togami, Fukawa or Hagakure as one of Oogami’s killers. Because Oogami called them earlier to this room. She is certain one of them is the culprit.

Episode 9
Classroom Trial is now in session. Asahina wastes no time in accusing the trio because they received a note to meet her. Togami says he did not go. Fukawa went and reached first but since she was scared, she hid in the closet. She saw Hagakure coming in next. She heard Oogami wanting to end this so Hagakure got scared thinking she was going to kill him and took a bottle and smashed her head and killed. Asahina wants to vote for the killer now but not so fast. Naegi objects that there were 2 blows on her head. After Hagakure fled, Fukawa came out of her hiding but fainted at the sight of blood. That’s when Genocider Sho came out. Both split personalities have no memories when the other is awake. Because the bloodied sight of Oogami scared the sh*t out of her, she took another bottle and smashed her head. However Oogami died slumped on the couch and not in front of the bookshelf were the attack took place (there were blood spill there). Togami explains the reason behind her death: Poisoning. There are a few cabinets in the lab that separates the drugs and one of them contains poison. A bottle of poison was found in the nutrients’ rack. Togami drinks this poison. He is still standing. Kirigiri examines it and finds it to be protein powder. This means somebody switched the contents of the bottles and gave Oogami drink the poison. As for the spilled powder at the lab’s cabinet with footprints, the culprit must have messed up and spilled it. The only way is to examine their shoes. However Asahina reveals she is the one who killed Oogami. But they’re best friends? How could she bring herself to kill her? That’s precisely it. She used that friendship to her advantage. Oogami requested for protein shake and will not hesitate to drink it if it’s from her. However Naegi feels something amiss. Could she really kill her best friend? Besides, how did Oogami locked herself in? If Asahina can’t explain it, she isn’t the culprit. Kirigiri shows another piece of evidence: A glass shards in the poison bottle and some were found underneath the protein shake (if Naegi broke the glass, it should have been over it). This means while the gang were distracted when they found the corpse, somebody placed the protein shake there to cover up Oogami’s death. Besides, the same powder is found on Oogami’s shoes, proving she was at the lab and accidentally dropped it while trying to take the poison herself. Thus the conclusion: Oogami took the poison and killed herself. She locked the door so nobody could prevent her suicide.

Asahina reveals Oogami told her she was going to talk to the trio and reminded her they are not their enemies. When she saw Oogami bloodied, she was told to get some protein shake. But she saw the powder on the floor and realized too late. It was then Oogami locked the door and drank the poison. Everyone votes Sakura as the killer and got it right. Togami is not happy with the truth. Kirigiri has warned him about making light of people’s emotions so this is what he gets because people don’t act on calculations or profit-and-loss arguments alone. As for why Asahina tried to cover up her death, Oogami has written a will to her and told her this battle left her in despair and would rather end this herself than to wait for someone to kill her. Feeling guilty she was the agent, she tried to get everyone’s forgiveness. However after getting hit by Hagakure and Fukawa, it drove her to despair and suicide. Asahina blames them for trampling over her feelings. She too had a delicate side. It’s as good as they’ve killed her and have no right to live. So she purposely tries to frame or make herself as the killer to get everyone killed. Monokuma disrupts this tear jerking moment and reveals that will was something he scribbled. The real one is in his hands and reads it aloud. The mastermind took her family’s dojo as hostage and is forced her to do his bidding. Not wanting to betray her friends, her death will stop all the in-fighting and prevent future killings. She will gladly give up her life for this purpose. She wants all of them to survive. Asahina feels bad that she tried to get everyone killed and make her death in vain. The rest agrees with those words. Togami announces that he is dropping out of this game to hunt and punish the real mastermind. Genocider Sho will gladly go where Togami goes. Monokuma is not to be defeated and dishes out his punishment on a special guest: Alter Ego. The computer gets repeatedly smashed by an excavator. Monokuma adds he long knew what Alter Ego was doing. He continues reading the rest of the will but only hints the important parts. The mastermind has done something to their body and Oogami will get revenge on this. At about 3am, Kirigiri wakes up Naegi to meet her at the data processing room. However it is locked and there Monokuma is telling them to go to sleep. As they leave, she whispers into Naegi’s ear that the 16th student, Mukuro Ikusaba the super duper high school despair is hiding somewhere in this academy.

Episode 10
While exploring the fifth floor, they come across a botanical garden, a shed and a classroom filled with blood and destruction. Supposedly that incident Alter Ego was talking about. Kirigiri wants to go investigate so Togami doesn’t trust because she always goes off by herself. He wants her to reveal her true identity but she can’t because she can’t remember. Togami doesn’t believe this convenient story and will restrict her movements. He asks for the keys to her room and she willingly gives it. After Kirigiri leaves, Fukawa shows them a survival knife she found. Togami lets Naegi keep it since by deduction he is the safest. Monokuma calls everyone because he is upset that somebody stole his treasure. As Kirigiri is not here, she is the suspect but Monokuma curses them all. Later Kirigiri calls Naegi to show him the key she found to the principal’s room. She managed to enter and found some information. This is thanks to Oogami as this was her ‘payback’. Ikusaba is a girl and a dangerous person. She is certain the principal wasn’t behind this but doesn’t have proof. As she wants to investigate further, she hopes Naegi can distract Monokuma for a while. He agrees but she must promise to come back alive. Naegi calls Monokuma to ask about the treasure. He’s not saying. Naegi falls asleep and has this weird dream. He doesn’t want to leave but needs to stay here. He opens his eyes to see a mysterious character with the survival knife. The next time he opens his eyes, Kirigiri is standing before him but couldn’t hear a word she says. Then he passes out. When he wakes up next morning, the knife is gone.

He walks about but nobody is around. Everyone is at the gym and trying to dismantle Monokuma, which is some sort of robot. Togami last night confronted Monokuma about the treasure but since he was nothing but a toy, he called everything to dismantle it. Inside is a bomb but the sensors are off. Togami thinks something bad may have happened to the person controlling Monokuma. They’re going to open the locked principal’s room so Togami orders Fukawa to get the pick from the shed. But she returns empty-handed and as Genocider Sho. She mentions about a corpse in the garden. The masked perpetrator with a knife stabbed in her back. Genocider wants to unmask her and the moment she does it, the bomb goes off. They think she is Kirigiri since she is not among them. But Naegi mentions about the 16th hidden person. After putting out the fire, they notice a funny crest on her hand and a key. It opens the data processing room. It is filled with monitors of the surveillance cameras around the school. Monokuma surprises everyone that he is back. He was just playing dead? He reveals that they are being filmed for the ultimate despair reality TV. They can’t believe they’ve been broadcasted to the nation because won’t the police or authorities take note? Who cares? This is just TV, right? They’re enjoying what’s on it and won’t come to save them. Besides, Monokuma purposely lured them in here so to make it as entertaining as possible for his audience. And since a corpse is found, it’s time to investigate before the Classroom Trial. Then Kirigiri returns. She announces that corpse belongs to Ikusaba.

Episode 11
Right when Classroom Trial begins, Togami instantly accuses Kirigiri as the culprit. Based on the fact the time the corpse was found in the garden and the time everyone else was at the gym taking apart Monokuma, only Kirigiri lacks an alibi. Naegi cannot be the culprit too because as the sprinklers are timed to go off, the corpse could have been wet. Only the upper part was because they put out the fire. At that time, Naegi was with them in the gym. But Kirigiri mentions the body was covered in vinyl sheet which she found in the shed. Naegi is surprised as Kirigiri tries to paint him a suspect. The knife sticking out of the back is fake because Ikusaba died with a blow to the head. The knife with blood was taken from a missing chicken in the shed (they keep count of the chickens too?). Togami still accuses her as the culprit but she reminds him he has her room key. Naegi feels that statement was a lie because just now she just showed him a master key she got that is accessible to all rooms. Didn’t she contradict herself? He tries to trust her on this and believes she has a plan. Kirigiri whispers if she is executed, the mystery of this school will never be solved. Monokuma suddenly wants to end the trial and vote. Naegi finds this weird. Monokuma pushes to end it while Kirigiri suddenly makes a last effort to make Naegi the culprit in which everyone seemingly believes. Naegi is voted as the killer and it is correct! His punishment is supposed to be crushed on a conveyor belt but at the final moment, Alter Ego’s face pops up and Naegi is sent falling down the deep hole. Monokuma is not happy that Alter Ego must have plant a virus before while infiltrating the network. The rest realize Naegi is not the culprit but Monokuma still believes so and dying a slow death at the bottom will be just fitting. Naegi wakes up at the bottom filled with trash. He knows Alter Ego saved him. But he can’t get out. He sleeps to preserve energy.

Then a big trash comes dropping down. Actually it’s Kirigiri and she’s here to save him. She explains that Ikusaba wasn’t supposed to die but Naegi. That wasn’t a dream. Ikusaba was to kill him but Kirigiri saved him. It was the mastermind’s plan to murder him and frame her so she could be executed as she was considered a nuisance and a series of events were designed to trap Kirigiri for her execution. Because Naegi felt the trial was weird, he too was considered a nuisance and was executed instead. Kirigiri possesses the master key so they can get out. But it’s a long way up. Really. It makes me wonder how Kirigiri survived the fall. Ah. Trash to break the fall, I guess. Kirigiri mentions she got a little of her memory back. She is a super duper high school detective. I figured that out ages ago. It’s because of her detective skills, her memory got erased. Her goal to come here is to meet the principal who is her father she has never seen in a long time. That’s why she is certain he isn’t the mastermind. When they get out, they speak to Monokuma. He will have Naegi executed again but Kirigiri dares him. If he does so, what will his audience think? They’ll think he forced his execution just because he can’t beat them head on. In other words, despair cannot kill hope. If he wants to beat them fair and square in despair, hold a retrial of Ikusaba’s murder again. However simply identifying the culprit won’t be interesting. Monokuma adds another rule. If they can figure out the mystery behind this school, they’ll walk free. Or they will all die. Naegi returns to the rest who are feeling guilty for accusing him. He doesn’t blame them a single bit as it was the mastermind’s objective to make them in despair. He tells them about the final trial that will take place. If they work together, they’ll get out of this alive.

Episode 12
All rooms are open to facilitate their investigation. One of the newly unlocked rooms is a corridor with destroyed dorms. There is also the principal’s room with a secret room. There is a box that contains bones of the principal! Kirigiri knows her dad has died some time ago because from what Monokuma said, only 16 high school students set foot in this academy alive. Naegi finds the principal’s electronic handbook among the bones and an SD card behind a picture frame. Watching the video, it is shocking that he sees all the students being interviewed by the principal. They are asked if they want to live in this confinement forever and they answered yes. Before the video could finish, Monokuma pulls the plug and the SD short circuits. Meanwhile Togami is looking at Ikusaba’s profile. She is a super duper high school soldier. Naegi enters the decimated locker area and using the principal’s handbook to open some of the locker, there are stuffs belonging to some of them like Hagakure. There is one notebook from Kirigiri mentioning she wanted to confront the person who proposed the plan of living together, the principal. However Naegi feels weird. Didn’t Kirigiri say she hasn’t seen her father since she was little? There is also a note that states the despairs are among them. There are 2 of them. At the morgue, Naegi sees Fukawa passed out. But not for long. Genocider Sho isn’t interested in examining the dead bodies especially this one from Ikusaba with multiple stab wounds. Naegi realizes only 9 of the corpse containments are in use. Monokuma then leaves him a picture. It is a group photo of everyone including Ikusaba. However only Naegi is not in it. The others also receive pictures.

As the Classroom Trial begins, Monokuma reminds that if they fail to identify Ikusaba’s murderer and solve the school’s mystery, they’ll be executed. Of course, if Monokuma loses, he’ll be executed too. Hagakure accuses everyone as the mastermind because the photo shows everyone except him. However everyone has a group photo without themselves in it. Fake photos to trap them and fight among themselves? Naegi argues the reason why they don’t remember. He mentions the stuffs in the locker and Kirigiri’s notebook. She confirms it’s her handwriting. Naegi concludes they all have amnesia. Then he tells them about the interview with the principal. This video and group photo proves they have amnesia. Of course it’s not just plain amnesia. The question is what memories were taken from them. Bu Naegi knows who the mastermind and Ikusaba’s murderer is. It’s not exactly one among them now. Because there are 9 corpses but 10 deaths, it could mean the corpse they found in the garden was a recycled one. It was filled with stab wounds like Enoshima’s. Does this mean Ikusaba is still alive? The one who tried to kill Naegi that night is the culprit and mastermind. But something was lacking on the hand and it is the crest on her hand which belongs to some mercenary group. Thus Ikusaba can’t be Naegi’s attacker. But Monokuma points out that means one of them here is the culprit and somebody has been wearing gloves all the time: Kirigiri. She takes it off to show the hideous burn marks she got when she was an apprentice detective. Naegi reveals the mastermind controlling Monokuma who has pretended to be dead: Enoshima! Because in all the group photos, her face is somewhat blocked out. Because they could have figured it if they took one look at her face. The girl in the pictures and video isn’t Enoshima they know. But they’ve all met her, right? That’s why they have amnesia. Big conclusion: Enoshima and Ikusaba switched places from the start! She also had someone else use her name making it impossible for them to notice. Then she faked her death by killing Ikusaba who had switched places with her. Therefore the real Enoshima is still alive and the real mastermind! Then poof! Monokuma turns into Enoshima. She adds Ikusaba is her older twin. And thus they are the twin despairs. Here’s your maniacal laughter to top it off (with her tongue sticking out and whatever hand signs she is doing).

Episode 13
Enoshima shows a video clip that should make them remember. This is what the outside looks like. Riots! Chaos! Disorder! Pandemonium! Anarchy! Why is everyone wearing Monokuma mask?! Even famous landmarks have Monokuma’s face! But nobody remembers this. Naegi thinks Genocider Sho may remember but Fukawa is too scared. Till Togami tells her she is their last hope, she instantly changes personality. She explains The Biggest and Baddest Despair Incident in Human History which resembled a natural disaster and turned the world into that in a blink of an eye. Was it the dystopian outlook or the Monokuma clones? Or both? Togami thinks this is stupid but Enoshima mentions his entire family has been wiped out from the calamity. Now do you feel despair? Everyone thinks they have just entered this school for only a few weeks but Enoshima points out they have been here for 2 years! Thus, their lost memories are all those other weeks and months. They have really been spending 2 years in school together and this also means they were killing their friends. Though the first year was peaceful, it didn’t last long and I am guessing with Enoshima and that incident coming into the picture, the school was driven to despair. The principal turned it into a shelter but he never expected the twin despair sisters to enrol here. Therefore, the shelter that was supposed to keep them safe became a cage that prevented from escaping despair. It was everyone who tightly sealed the windows and everything. Kirigiri thinks an organization is behind this but Enoshima puts it that despair is contagious and everyone caught it. Time for the last vote. However it will be different. Everyone needs to unanimously vote for despair of hope. But if one of them votes differently, everyone will be punished and Enoshima wins. Of course she herself won’t vote. But letting them live here and grow old peacefully will be boring so Enoshima points to Naegi as the sacrifice. If they sacrifice him, they can live peacefully. Oh, she forgot to mention that if they kill her, the air purifier that keeps the air clean here will shut down as outside is contaminated. Enoshima loves the despair look on their faces.

Naegi refuses to give up or lose to Enoshima. Stubborn he may be but if despair is all that exists around, he just needs to infect everyone with his hope. And so he loads up his hope bullets and fires them into their despair looking friends. His hopeful words were enough to make them fill with positivism and back to their natural ways. I guess everyone except Fukawa gets a hope talk because as we know, her motivation hinges on how Togami feels. Kirigiri concludes that Naegi isn’t the super duper high school luckster on unluckster but super duper high school hopester! Someone who is there to defeat the super duper despair. Naegi continues not to give in to Enoshima’s despair and the mastermind herself is starting to feel gross that hope is filling the place. Everybody votes Enoshima the guilty party but she is unfazed. In fact, she is happy! This is the ultimate despair and she loves it. She came up with the most detailed despair plan, killed her own sister and eventually the plan failed. Isn’t this just the best? From a despair’s point of view, of course. Now she would like to punish herself. Nobody can stop her as she sees no hope in living. She wants to experience once in a lifetime despair of death to the fullest. In this super duper nasty torture, it is a mix of all previous punishment we have seen before she gets crushed to a bloody death. The survivors are preparing themselves to head outside for the first time. The world is vast and they’ll be looking for hope. So long as they don’t give up, hope will push them forward no matter what the future holds. Are you prepared for the outside where hope and despair co-exist?

Judge Or Be Judged! Death Is Always Around The Corner – Live Hard, Die Hard Easy!
Honestly for someone who hasn’t played the video game, this series was quite exciting and interesting watch. Just like Hyouka, the deductions and evidence are the ones that kept me glued to the screen for as long as the episode. However something about the ending that makes me feel unsatisfied. I’m not saying that the ending is bad but it somewhat makes me feel despair! I don’t know what kind of ending I wanted but I thought everybody would have died at the end! I know that’s my despair and sadistic side speaking but even at least I didn’t expect slightly less than half of the casts to survive and even if there were survivors, it had to be Naegi and Kirigiri or just Naegi alone. If that happens, this show would have ended on a despair note. With the mastermind and mystery behind the school solved, everyone taking their first step outside (goodbye, despair academy for good?), the teaser ending that Monokuma somewhat still lives and another Monokuma-like creature called Usami beckoning us, it just leaves me curious than ever and never knowing the answer is what leaves me in despair! Oh, woe and despair! Despair! The word of the show.

Halfway through the series I did ponder the possibility if this mutual killings would work and that everybody would die either being a murder victim or getting punished. Because let’s imagine this. Say that there are 3 people left. Somebody gets murdered. The murderer would be very obvious, right? In that sense, there is no need for any Class Trial and the murderer would have been straightaway found guilty. So if you follow strictly by the game rules, who would want to make the kill when there are only 3 people left? Unless you kill the remaining duo. That’s why I started wondering if the mutual killings will get this far. Even if there are only 4 people left. One dies and it won’t be long or hard just to guess who the killer is, right? Besides, it would have been somewhat boring if they follow this formula so when the number of survivors are halved, there is a change in the game play and surprise, surprise. I certainly didn’t see this coming. Perhaps I was trying too hard to understand and digest all the information that was thrown to me that I wasn’t putting on my thinking cap.

Although I am satisfied with the execution of the series in terms of the occurrence of the murder and the Classroom Trial that has the survivors debate with clues to catch who the murderer is, sometimes I feel that everything presented is too rushed. Usually it’s one episode for the murder and one concluding episode for the trial. For example, when a murder is occurred, the time shown for the survivors to investigate is somewhat ‘fast forward’. We are then rushed in being shown the several clues and objects at the crime scene before proceeding to the Classroom Trial. It may be boring just to see them going around and pointing to us important clues that will uncover the culprit. So why not just do it all during the trial? Thus in this sense that’s why I thought that it feels rushed. Although a big majority of the items shown are related, a handful I noticed aren’t and perhaps to throw us off. You must be a very observant person and one who has a photogenic memory if you want to make quick deductions like Naegi. It’s because the scenes again are shown too fast and for a casual viewer like me, you would definitely miss it until it is pointed out in the trial, then you go back and re-examine that scene again and realize it was there all along.

One thing I find it weird is that before Classroom Trial begins, we see some animation of a gun chamber being loaded with bullets. I suppose this is some sort of symbolism to indicate that these are ‘ammunition’ for Naegi to fire back when there is a contradiction. Each time there is one, Naegi objects and ‘fires’ this objection bullet. You can pretty much tell if the character is lying or contradicting when words of what he/she said pop up on screen and then Naegi goes into his usual ace attorney “I object!” voice. And it always seems he is correct in his objections. Not a single bullet ‘missed’. Then in the final episode, his bullets turned into super energizing hope. Better than any energy drinks or drugs to revitalize a person filled with despair. You could say it is like a hopeful soup for the despair soul!

I thought that having 15 characters for a survival show wasn’t enough and more the merrier for the mutual killings, right? But I think for an anime with only 13 episodes and seeing the direction it was heading, I think it is sufficient. As I read, fans of the game aren’t pretty impressed with the anime and one reason being that the characters are not properly fleshed out. Unlike in the game where you get to know more about the characters, those who are killed off early like Kuwata and Maizono are not properly developed. I mean, how can you develop a character who is already dead? It is as though they have become part of the death statistic and you don’t feel that they were once there. But with the pacing of the where the show is going, I don’t think there will be enough time to get to know more of them since, well, they’re going to be killed anyway, right?

For the surviving characters, Naegi as the hero and main protagonist shines in the area of deduction and the one in the Classroom Trials who gives the vital clues that turn the tables on the culprit. I think he is both lucky and hopeful the reason why he gets this far. Lucky in the sense that he could have been killed by the murderer who wants him framed but was saved by Kirigiri. He could have also died during the execution but was saved by Alter Ego. Isn’t he lucky? He never gives up hope and right till the very end triumphs over despair. Kirigiri serves as the biggest mystery among the main characters (aside the mastermind) because of her ability to go off by herself and snoop around. That’s why it came as no surprise when she finally remembered that she is a super duper high school detective. But the mind boggling part is that how can she go around snooping and finding evidence without getting caught if there are surveillance cameras everywhere. Unless you tell me Monokuma is sleeping on the job (which I doubt the bear is) or allowing it to make things more interesting. This mysterious part of hers feels like they want us to suspect Kirigiri as an accomplice but we know she’s too good for that.

Surprisingly I didn’t expect Hagakure to survive right till the end. Because he was just dumb, lazy and a coward. You can see his true colours unfolding as each trial passes. This is what a super duper shaman is? Probably it is part of the producer’s ploy to throw us off because dumb, lazy and coward characters get killed off early or somewhere in the middle of the show, right? Whereas beautiful and cute girls don’t really get killed (unless they’re dumb blondes that you hate). And there you have it, the shaman who doesn’t even use his ability to predict his future and anybody’s future, survives. Asahina is a plain girl too so I thought she too would somehow get killed. But I suppose her will to live for her best friend and not let Oogami’s death be in vain spurs her on. Amazingly a pessimistic Fukawa also survived. Maybe that’s why she is still breathing. Despite Fukawa being an annoying b*tch (her fawning over Togami is so irritating), it is Genocider Sho that is the most lively and amusing one. Despite her crazy colourful character that doesn’t hold back, something in her still feels lacking. Maybe she’ll just cut up everything had she had more screen time. You need an arrogant bastard and someone who feels he is superior to others like Togami in such groups. I thought he too would have died because of his arrogance but surprise, surprise. I guess to show that he isn’t really a heartless bastard, there are times that he shows his humanity but that is just for a short while before he returns to his proud self.

I certainly didn’t see it coming that Enoshima was the mastermind and the one behind Monokuma. Everything was cleverly planned out and things worked in her favour thanks to her pathetic sister-loving Ikusaba who unknowingly became a pawn in her hands. There was an early statement in one of the early episodes made by Oogami that Enoshima does not look like she does in the magazines and she convincingly and easily brushed it off as edited photos. I guess this explains a lot and puts many of the puzzle pieces together. I thought it was just a causal useless statement but apparently that was a big hint to who the real Enoshima was. I’m not sure if Enoshima had several split personalities but I don’t think that is the word to describe her because in the last episode when she is explaining, we see several different personalities that range from a cute naive model to a strict teacher to a crazy b*tch and even one who is full of true despair. She really loves despair, doesn’t she? She should watch the world news more often. That will be more depressing. Monokuma is equally mysterious because he pops out of nowhere and knows everything. Imagine if he becomes the teddy bears of the world, that would be total despair! Among the deceased, Oogami is certainly the noblest since she was even the sacrifice her life for her friends. I feel Ishimaru would have been the same but he didn’t last that long…

Watching this series raised several questions for me. Now that it is known that there is some sort of disaster outside and that it is inhabitable, are there any other survivors outside? If it is lawless and chaotic, whose audiences are Enoshima showing this reality TV? I mean, outside is decimated and I doubt there is going to be any living thing surviving on the surface (unless there are lots of shelters made like Hope Peak) so who is she transmitting reality TV to? People are trying to survive rather than watch this sh*t. Unless of course they are so in despair that watching others in despair has been defined as the new standards in entertainment. Such sadists. Now that Enoshima is killed, will the air purifier stop working? The survivors are leaving but will they be contaminated since I didn’t see them going outside wearing any sort of contamination suit. Unless she was lying. Unless they have this hope thing as their protection. Gee, I didn’t know hope was this useful. Then there are those decimated classrooms. Going by what Enoshima said, if they have been killing each other since a year ago, to say that the mutual killings have been going on ever since with Enoshima as the host for as long. This must have been the umpteenth mutual killings and probably these are the final 15. Or was there some battle royale before the final 15? But how come the photos only show them instead of others? Another thing to ponder is how Enoshima manage to take selective memories from them. Does she have some sort of device or her despair works like a hypnotism charm? There were perhaps many other mind boggling things but I choose not to bring it up here because it will leave me in despair…

Of course I couldn’t stand to be in the despair for all the curiosity so I went to do a little reading up around the internet. So it is to my discovery that Enoshima is part of the group of people and organization whose goal is to spread despair all over the world. They are the ones who caused that Biggest and Baddest Despair Incident in Human History. The reason why she is showing this reality TV to the world is also part of her goal to make everyone who sees it into despair. The execution right in the beginning of the first episode that has the victim being sent into space in a space rocket before it comes crashing down was actually the principal. She hijacked Hope Peak and sent the principal to his doom. Now I suppose everything (if not most of it) has become clear to me. There are also a number of sequels, prequels and spin-offs of this series (which means more weird and colourful characters) whether it is video game or novels but if it is ever adapted into anime, I would love to watch it. Not that I love being in despair or anything, mind you.

Some of the character designs are weird but it gives them some personality. I thought I might be seeing shades of One Piece that is famed for character designs for odd body parts here. I won’t go so far to say that the characters have odd body parts but many of them just look weird. For instance, Hagakure’s spikey hairstyle makes him look like a giant walking sea urchin. Those hair spikes could even put Dragonball’s Goku’s towering spikes to shame. Then there is mole-faced Yamada who is so fat like a ball that it makes him cartoonish and Oowada’s Pompadour or Regent hairstyle that makes it look like some sort of armadillo shell. Hey, doesn’t Asahina’s hair look like a turd? Not forgetting Genocider Sho’s wavy tongue like a jinn and Oogami is so beefed up with muscles bulging from every part of her body that I thought she was a manly man in drag. I thought Ishimaru had draught pieces as his eyes. I also thought Fujisaki looked weird and the way he sounded it was like as though he was a cross-dresser. Because everyone looked weird, I didn’t give much thought about it till it is revealed he was indeed a trap! During execution of the murderer’s scene, the drawing style turns into something like a paper mache play. It’s quite interesting but I think this is how the original video game artwork looks like. Another odd thing I find is the blood colour. They are pink! I know it lessens the gruesome effect because it would have been scarier should it be dark red but personally, I thought being pink just takes away the realism and makes the murder looking a bit cartoonish.

The voice acting part is pretty decent but nothing that extraordinary since this anime is a heavy dialogue one. If I had to point out the best one, then it goes to Nobuyo Oyama as Monokuma. This person who was the voice of the titular character in Doraemon is now voicing a teddy bear who is just creepy, mysterious and mischievous all in one. Upupupu! The rest of the casts include Megumi Ogata as Naegi (Yume in Koi To Senkyo To Chocolate), Youko Hikasa as Kirigiri (Mio in K-ON!), Akira Ishida as Togami (Gaara in Naruto), Megumi Sawashiro as Fukawa/Genocider Sho (Inaba in Kokoro Connect), Chiwa Saito as Asahina (Aika in Aria The Animation), Masaya Matsutake as Hagakure (Ren in Jigoku Shoujo), Kujira as Oogami (Otose in Gintama), Hekiru Shiina as Celestia (Todoroki in Seitokai Yakuindomo), Kappei Yamaguchi as Yamada (Usopp in One Piece), Kousuke Toriumi as Ichimaru (Cecil in Uta No Prince-sama Maji Love 2000%), Kazuya Nakai as Oowada (Zoro in One Piece), Kouki Miyata as Fujisaki/Alter Ego (Ahbmad in Magi), Takahiro Sakurai as Kuwata (Suzaku in Code Geass), Makiko Oomoto as Maizono (Miki in Tenshi Na Konamaiki) and Megumi Toyoguchi as Enoshima (Revy in Black Lagoon).

The opening theme is Never Say Never by TKDz2b featuring The 49ers and has a little R&B and hip hop in it. It’s not so much the despair lyrics that you’ll notice but the way Monokuma does his body touching dance. Sexy? Creepy? There is a special opening theme, Monokuma Ondo which is very much like a festival song but the lyrics about calmly devouring each other would make you raise an eyebrow or two. A festival of killing each other, I guess. The ending theme is Zetsubousei:  Hero Chiryouyaku by Suzumu featuring Soraru. It sounds like a video game song but the crazy and frenzy pace of the song makes it suitable for the insanity that is happening. The lyrics itself is frantic like as though the singer is going crazy. The amusing part in the ending credits is that those who have died will be marked clearly with a big ‘X’ as the credit rolls. More interestingly, the group photo which shows those who have been killed. But oddly, Naegi is always in the picture and this made me think, hey, is he dead and a ghost wandering around?! I mean, the group picture is only for the deceased and Naegi as the hero of the show is still alive and breathing, no? And when the mutual killing stops, everybody is in it. The final ending theme for the last episode is Saisei -rebuild- sung by Megumi Ogata. This lively rock piece sounds so much different than the rest like as though it gives us much hope after all the despair.

There are lots of lessons we can learn by just observing a group of people trying to survive together. It brings out your true colours when lives are at stake. You can see the things people would do just to have things their way or in this case, just to get out and survive. The great lengths that people will do to cover up a murder. However when all the lies and truths have been uncovered, you can see how they start acting strangely and it is a telltale sign that they are guilty and starting to falter. It is obvious and only human that they act so because these are super duper high school students and are not murderers (Genocider Sho is an exception). How many of us can kill and then keep a straight face? Seems pretty well till they get cornered. It also asserts the age old idiom of never judge a book by its cover. Especially in Maizono and Oogami’s case. You never thought that the sweet loving idol would make the first move and kill, right? Her backfired plan only reveals she was selfish, deceiving and a b*tch and it was probably a good thing she died early. We never cared so much about her anyway. Oogami looked like a killer with all her bulging muscles and scars, someone that looked like she will not hesitate to kill a fly. But in the end it shows she too has a delicate side and that she cares very much for her friends. It’s sad that good people like her had to die just to make others open their eyes and move forward. Also not forgetting that hope and despair are like light and darkness, they co-exist and can’t do without the other. Human’s feelings and state of being are volatile and fluctuating so it depends on how strong the influence of hope and despair has on that person. It could make or break you.

Overall, this series is quite good and entertaining and those who want to watch a whodunit series without anything too complicated should find this enjoyable. Of course, please don’t organize such mutual killing events so that you can fall into despair. Come to think of it, wasn’t Enoshima the one enjoying the most in watching the despair of others instead of being in despair herself till her final moments? Putting myself in such a situation, I don’t think I would fare well either. I would either be the first one out or get killed. Given that I am a shut-in (almost) otaku and in the wildest of possibilities that I survived till the end, I probably won’t survive long outside. I know there is no meaning to living a life that is in despair as Naegi puts it but what will I do without my animes? How can I live without the things I love, the things that define me the most? You could call me a super duper high school useless person or super duper high school pessimist because that’s all I’m good at. Ah, ah… Suddenly that left me in feeling despair. To quote a line from an infamous Mr Despair, “Zetsubou shita (I’m in despair)!”.

God is mad. God is angry. God has had it with us. God is going to wipe us out and make it like as though we never existed in the first place or never part of His creation. Judgment Day is before us. The thought of the end of the world never would have really occurred to us because we are content that it won’t happen in the soonest time. What happens when it does? What would you do to survive? But God isn’t totally unreasonable. He is going to give us a fighting chance to prove why we should continue existing. Consider this a trial on a mega large scale. To fight back, we get to summon demons with our handphones to fight aliens sent by the Almighty to destroy us. So okay. That last line really sounds like stretching it but that is somewhat the plot and what is happening in Devil Survivor 2 The Animation.

Based on the tactical role playing game of the same name (more accurately, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2), mankind is thrown into chaos and is being told that they have to defeat 7 mysterious and powerful creatures within 7 days if they want to continue surviving. Doing the maths, it’s like one monster a day, right? How hard or bad could that be? Well, imagine this. You jump straight into the fray by having to fight the final boss 7 times consecutively. The next boss is more insanely powerful than the previous one. Just when you thought you have used all your power and whatever resources you have to defeat, then comes another crazier one. Doesn’t that zap your motivation and morale? I mean, finding 7 mystical orbs is okay but what happens if you need to find 10,000 of them?! Not motivating, right? Real bummer. But that is what you need to do when your life and survival of your kind is on the line. Sure, there aren’t any cheat codes for God mode or unlimited ammunition? All we got is just our stinking handphone and some mysterious app that summons demons to fight on our behalf… Really. An app to summon demons? This I got to see.

Episode 1
High school boys, Hibiki Kuze and Daichi Shijima meet at the busy street of Shibuya to talk about their future. Daichi shows Hibiki a secret but popular site called Nicaea that uploads images of death. You’re supposed to get a picture of how you die. They take a picture of each other, upload it and wait for it to reply back. While waiting at the underground train station, Nicaea returns with the results. It shows the train derailment and the carriage falling on them. There’s their death faces… The guys start to feel spooked because how can they get such real footage? Before they can get out of the station, an earthquake rocks the place. True enough, the train derails and falls over them. Nicaea asks if they want to continue living and Hibiki answered yes. An app is downloaded. When Hibiki wakes up, he finds Daichi still living. They are in shock and just when they thought they spot a survivor, it turns out to be wolf beastmen feasting on the dead. Not too far away, they notice their schoolmate, Io Nitta being cornered by the creatures. Her fear causes her to unleash some sort of ogre demon from her handphone. The demon helps pounce on the beasts. Likewise, Daichi is also scared in what he sees and somehow summons a cute little demon from his handphone. While their demons keep the creatures at bay, the trio run away and discuss what happened. They figure it is Nicaea. When they were asked if they want to live or not, choosing to survive means it forcefully downloaded some app. Although they are not sure why. When they exit the station, it seems the magnitude of the calamity is far worse. The area is devastated and chaos is everywhere with massive casualties. Suddenly all communications and electricity are cut. Since Nitta is worried about her family, the guys decide to accompany her home since it is quite far away. Before communications were cut, the guys manage to confirm their own family are safe.

A special government group from the Japan Meteorological Society or also known as JP’s (pronounced as ‘jeeps’) seems to have taken special authority over the disaster place. Tokyo branch’s JP’s, Makoto Sako is on site to assess the damage and take further action. Her worry is not the multiple Case D manifestation but the survival of mankind through Judgment Day even if it means using demons. Daichi, Hibiki and Nitta are still together as night falls quickly. They can’t find a way to delete the app. Suddenly a weird ice cream UFO lands in the area. It explodes and takes out all those nearby. Then it starts shooting randomly. Before it could get to them, Hibiki tells Nitta to summon her demon. It blocks all the alien’s attacks. Hibiki then receives another death image from Nicaea and it shows Daichi’s death face. Daichi is seen driving a truck, doing a kamikaze to save his friends and crashes into the alien. Hibiki becomes distraught. His app just finished downloading and he summons a powerful demon, the white tiger Byakko. JP’s picks up this unregistered summoning and Makoto is surprised someone has manifested something this powerful. Hibiki orders Byakko to attack the alien till it is destroyed. He is relieved to see Daichi saved by a little fairy, another demon from Nitta’s app. JP’s takes the trio into custody.

Episode 2
The trio are taken to Tokyo ward’s Diet Building. They never knew such a place existed underneath this building. Daichi and Nitta are locked away and only Hibiki is brought to JP’s operation room by Makoto to meet the bureau’s chief, Yamato Hotsuin. Because he summoned one of the 4 most powerful symbols in the Chinese constellations. No ordinary person can summon that. This operation room protects Japan from enemies. The kind that is of paranormal anomalies like ghosts and demons. Hibiki is told there are various ways to summon demons and one way is the demon summoning app that wasn’t supposed to be available to public. How it got into their handphones is still under investigation. JP’s has foreseen this calamity but they did not warn the public as it would cause undue panic and interfered with their operations. Hibiki thinks they’re selfish, to have all the high-tech equipment and yet couldn’t warn the people. Yamato says the enemy he defeated is the lowest of them all. There are 6 more enemies and 6 more days to defeat them. Otherwise, Earth will be consumed and disappear. The enemy is called Septentriones, aliens from another world that can only be defeated by a demonic power. Because Hibiki possesses that power, Yamato wants him to help them and obey him. JP’s scientists conclude the kids’ handphone have a different demon summoning app and are still finding out who wrote such programme and released it to the public. Next day, Hibiki makes a deal with JP’s. If they don’t release his friends unharmed, he will not cooperate.

Makoto drives the kids to Ariake but upon reaching Minato ward, the place is devastated and Nitta is thrown into further depression. She wants to go alone but the rest will accompany her to at least the emergency shelter. Makoto hands back their modified handphones that is directly linked to JP’s. If there is anything, feel free to contact them. The atmosphere in the shelter is depressing and Nitta is sad she couldn’t find any more information about her mother. Suddenly winged demons crash into the shelter. Everyone panics and runs for their lives. Hibiki couldn’t stand there and do nothing so he summons Byakko to take the fight outside. Daichi wants to join in too but his handphone is somewhat under maintenance. He laments the sh*t they are in because just until yesterday, they were just high school kids. The waves of aliens are endless. Makoto joins in the fight using her angel avatar called Power. But she leaves Hibiki to fend off the demons as she goes to find the source. She destroys somebody’s handphone that is running amuck somewhere to end the attacks. In the aftermath, Hibiki thought everyone is against him but his hopes were lit when a boy thanks him for saving them. Back at JP’s, Yamato praises Hibiki for his wise decision. Hibiki wants to do everything he can to help. Daichi and Nitta have heard the details and also offer to help out. They are then shown a picture of Dr Fumi Kanno, the scientist in charge of JP’s security and summoning systems. Coincidentally she disappeared at the Osaka station about the same time Septentriones showed up. Their plans will be in great jeopardy if she isn’t found and so the trio’s first order is to join the search party and find her.

Episode 3
While riding on JP’s secret train, Hibiki mentions he would’ve preferred his friends to stay back at Tokyo. You think they want to let him hog all the action? Better do something than doing nothing. Hibiki promises he will do all he can to protect them. Upon arrival, they are introduced to Hinako Kujou and Keita Wakui, kids who recently become Summoners like them. Keita is not interested in finding a lost person and prefers to go off by himself to do demon hunting. The Osaka’s main bureau command centre is suddenly being hacked. The operational commander-cum-deputy director orders to initiate the defence and track down the hacker who is making this hacking look like easy pie. It would be easy just to unplug everything but that would leave Osaka without any barrier of defence. So… Security relies on the internet? Hinako gets a death clip of Keita lying dead at the Festival Gate, which is pretty close to this place. Hibiki’s deduction has him identifying that place as the source of the hack. Yamato then orders all Summoners to head there. Hibiki wants to know if he sent them here knowing this would happen. He didn’t reply and orders them to hurry. Hibiki has the operator contact Keita to warn him not to head to that place. Because of the future vision of the death clip, he thinks they can change the future. Unfortunately Keita won’t be answering his phone since he is attacked by cow and horse demons. He summons his Berserker to attack. That’s a guy in a bear’s suit, right?

The waves of demons are endless and Keita is having his hands full. He could have died like how he did in the clip had not Hinako summoned her Lilim to save him. The rest arrive to help out but they need to apprehend the cracker who is controlling them as well as hacking the bureau. The kids will have to complete the job themselves since the other Summoners whom they are supposed to rendezvous with are all dead. Because the kids are having it tough to get close to the cracker, Yamato orders the release of Almadel despite warning that the virus is incomplete and it should not be used without Fumi’s supervision. Almadel stalls the demons to give the kids enough time to push forward. Nitta is about to apprehend the cracker but is almost killed by her avatar demon. Berserker saves her. To everyone’s surprise, the cracker turns out to be Fumi. Brainwashed. What better way than to use the person who designed the system, right? Because their demons are no match for Fumi’s, Hibiki devises a plan to cooperate. In a diversion, the enemy demon is taken out and Daichi destroys the system to stop the hacking (which is in its final phase). Before they can rejoice, a demon appears, Botis and blows away Berserker. He then sets lightning upon them but Keita pushes Hibiki out of harm’s way. Botis also has Fumi execute her final task. She has Almadel reboot and cause the system to erode by erasing any traces of its user. The firewall is completely down and all defensive barriers are eliminated. Hinako is devastated that Keita is dead. Just like in the clip. Hibiki is shocked that they couldn’t prevent the death clip from becoming reality despite knowing what will happen. Septentriones begin appearing all over Osaka.

Episode 4
Hibiki blames himself for that but no time for that as JP’s takes the kids for their next Septentriones fight. The army can’t defeat the Septentriones, Merak so it’s JP’s turn to take action. Merak is heading towards Osaka’s spiritual barrier, Tsutenkaku and if it is destroyed, Osaka will be done for. Daichi is put on the medical-evacuation team since his demons are too weak. Hibiki is made as the last line of defence. Merak must not be allowed to advance beyond him or else it’s the end of humanity. Because Hibiki still feels responsible over Keita’s death, Yamato tells him Keita’s sacrifice is acceptable. But it’s not to Hibiki so he is told to quit seeing he lacks the will to fight and is useless despite having such great power. However Hibiki won’t because he will not allow anymore sacrifices. Merak destroys the first line of defence. All the Summoners were easily annihilated! So much for that. Then it shoots a powerful blast at the barrier and disables everything and kills everything in its path. Daichi is the only survivor of his medical-evacuation team. He is freezing in the streets as he calls Hibiki to get out and save his own skin. Yamato cuts off their communication. Hibiki is going to fight Merak with Byakko. He is upset Yamato should have used him first or else many wouldn’t have died. Makoto says they can’t use him without knowing the enemy’s capabilities. Hibiki doesn’t need their permission and heads off alone to fight. Nitta was a second too late to see Hibiki because he just left his position. Hinako’s team is next in line to face Merak. They are no match for it as expected. Hinako is surprised to see Hibiki entering the fray. However Byakko’s electricity has no effect on Merak. Everyone tries to cover Byakko but Merak’s power cuts through all of them, killing everyone and leaving Hinako on the verge of death. Merak inches closer to the barrier and Hibiki is left feeling the guilt once more.

Alcor (calling himself Yamato’s old friend) appears before Hibiki, saying that he only survived because of his powerful demon. Hibiki laments he can’t save everyone but Alcor feels he was dragged into this. He mentions Hinako saved him and there is another one fighting in his place. It hit Hibiki that it is Nitta since Hinako said she was on his way to see him but looks like they missed each other. Alcor likes his way of thinking of wanting to fix things. He wonders why he would take action when others wouldn’t. Because he has acquired this power. Nitta and the last defence line prepare to face off Merak. Nitta summons a power demon goddess Kikuri Hime and though it does some damage, it is still not enough to prevent Merak from powering up its final blast. Hibiki arrives in time to knock Merak’s blast off course. At this time when Merak is vulnerable, Hibiki powers up Byakko and slices through Merak to destroy it for good. Everyone rejoices in their victory. Hibiki is thought he saw little life in Merak but it was quickly cut down by Ronaldo Kuriki. He is a former member of JP’s and hates this organization now. He wants Hibiki to come with him as he views Yamato dangerous. All team members return to headquarters but there is no trace of Hibiki.

Episode 5
Ronaldo went AWOL from JP’s 2 years ago and so they must take precaution against him because he knows the workings of the organization well. Currently he is holding up at Nagoya branch so JP’s sends in a team for the mission to rescue Hibiki. Daichi and Nitta manage to stowaway. I don’t know how they fit into the cardboard box. They get a clip from Nicaea and are shocked to see Hibiki’s death. Communications are cut off from the main branch so they can’t get any feedback. Just like fate, the Septentriones is targeting Nagoya’s barrier too. At this crucial time, they don’t really need to fight against another human. Fumi is up and trying to fix what’s broken. Makoto takes a rest and remembers how Yamato recruited her 2 years ago because he saw the competency in her unlike other garbage. She swore loyalty to him because if not for that fateful meeting, she wouldn’t have turned out the person she is today. In Nagoya, Airi Ban and Jungo Torii are well rested and so are their demons. Airi wants to go take JP’s back from the insurgent but Jungo is cautious for them siding on JP’s despite they were saved by them. Even so, he doesn’t want to fight another human. Daichi and Nitta arrive at Nagoya. They see the people trying to live in this disaster area. Demons suddenly appear so the duo go into action. As usual, Daichi’s avatars are so weak. Nitta’s Kikuri Hime is powerful but she tires out easily. They are saved by a fire breathing demon, Suzaku. It belongs to Hibiki! His friends are glad to see him but he quickly leaves once the demons are disposed. Some of the people think he is going to see the leader so the duo want to be taken there.

Otome Yanagiya is the nurse JP’s of Nagoya branch. She forced to treat some of the wounded insurgents holding up the place. Ronaldo returns with Hibiki with his side. He gives Otome a handphone since she is a Summoner. Their plan is to stop Yamato. Ronaldo is knows well about mankind’s position if they lose to Septentriones. So why is he revolting instead of fighting alongside JP’s? Once Yamato defeats Septentriones, he will institute meritocracy and become the new leader of the new world. This situation is a good chance for him to further his ambitions as he has manipulated both JP’s and the government. Ronaldo was a former detective and was scouted by JP’s for his skill. Naturally he snooped around and found out a dark secret of the Hotsuin family (something about the prophecy of Septentriones and mankind’s fate). Because of that, he was targeted for death. Hibiki thought he was doing the right thing following Yamato but Ronaldo disagrees because his methods will lead the powerless to their death. He is just a tool. Remember the big massacre of those JP’s agents? He won’t accept such a world because he views all humans equal. Ronaldo brings Hibiki to their temporary command centre. He further tells Hibiki that lots of people in the resistance have suffered and lost something. Thankfully they have lots of powerful Summoners. Though, they are still investigating who created the summoning app and would invite them to join their cause. Their mission this time is to defeat Septentriones themselves before JP’s if they want to be recognized as a force to be reckoned with. Aside Hibiki’s Byakko and Suzaku, they will use Ronaldo’s Hagen, Yuzuru Akie AKA Joe’s Orcus and Otome’s Sarasvati for this mission. Ronaldo is confident they can win this and will sacrifice no one. Meanwhile Yamato thinks how everyone is weak. There is no future for them. That’s why the strong must lead. Flashback 12 years ago when Yamato underwent some screening test. He surprised everyone by easily summoning the powerful Cerberus on his first try. The demon burnt down everything and only listened and be tamed by Yamato. Subsequently Alcor found him. And now, the game is about to begin. Alcor notes the Shining One isn’t here anymore so Yamato replies the ideal he sought never existed because it is strength and those with ability that will lead. No other ways about it and will prove it. Yamato is surprised he receives a message from Nicaea supposedly from a friend.

Episode 6
Airi and Jungo sneak into the Nagoya’s branch via air ventilation. Ronaldo shows his team the place where the Septentriones will appear based on the Hotsuin’s family prophecy. Back at the temporary base, Otome talks to Hibiki about his defection. He didn’t think he have what it takes to save the people at JP’s. Despite having power, not knowing how to use it is as good as not having them. Otome admits that JP’s may be utilitarian but Hibiki didn’t like the way Yamato does things by sacrificing others. If his actions were morally right, he would help him but he can’t obey him without knowing for sure. Otome then asks what makes him think Ronaldo’s actions are. At least he knows he won’t sacrifice anyone. Hibiki is surprised when Joe brings Daichi and Nitta to see him. Daichi is so emotional to reunite with him that he hugs him. They tell him they have snuck out from JP’s without permission and also the death clip they’ve got of him. They want him to return with them but he can’t because of the Septentriones that will be appearing here. His friends think he will die just like in the clip but he believes he can change that fate. Since both sides are stubborn, they will stay and protect him. After all, can you call yourself a friend if you abandon a friend? More heads are better, right? Airi and Jungo crash through the ventilation and are set upon the resistance guys. They summon their Cait Sith and Cat Shogun demons to fight till Ronaldo enters the scene. Airi is not open to talk (she will do that if they surrender) and continues to attack but is no match for Hagen. Hibiki pleads for them to stop as this is no time for them to fighting among themselves. Suddenly the sensors pick up signals of Septentriones manifesting. One problem: It is manifesting right here! Everyone throws at it what they’ve got but it’s not even making a scratch. It fires a powerful blast that cuts out electricity in the area. This is bad because without it, the barrier cannot function. Oh? Barriers now also function on electricity?

Hibiki summons Suzaku to burn it and at least he is making some damage. He is joined by Kikuri Hime and Sarasvati but the Septentriones split itself and fires a more powerful beam that cuts through anything. Daichi remembers this part of Hibiki’s death clip. Hibiki manages to avoid a direct hit but he drops and his handphone and it got disabled. Moments before Hibiki is going to be shot at point blank range, Cerberus jumps in from above and slices the Septentriones. Everyone before their eyes witness Yamato using his power to rewrite Cerberus’ ability to destroy the Septentriones for good. No human can do that, right? With the threat over, JP’s team has also reign in the resistance and retake control of the branch. Hibiki can’t understand how Yamato is here since he’s supposed in Tokyo. As explained, he supplied his own magical power to get himself here. Daichi is upset that if he had such power, he should have just fought alone instead of sacrificing others. Yamato believes sacrifices are necessary if they are to survive Judgment Day because it requires pawns to follow orders. Hibiki has become an exceptional pawn. Emotions are useless to pawns and wants Hibiki to return to his side and follow his orders. Ronaldo doesn’t want Hibiki to listen to his crap so Yamato tells him off his ideology is only a pipe dream. He can treat anyone special but the enemy won’t show mercy. No one will survive. Everyone is surprised when Ronaldo mentions Yamato’s ambition to become the world’s ruler. So now it’s everyone against Yamato. Hibiki is willing to fight him if he is going to hurt others. Alcor appears before them. He never thought the Shining Ones would fight like this and lets Hibiki know that Yamato came here because he saw his death clip.

Episode 7
Alcor says because Yamato is here, Hibiki is saved from death. If nothing is done, what happens in the death clip becomes true. Yamato doesn’t believe it because he believes as long as you have power, you can bend fate to your will. Alcor wants Hibiki to make his decision: Return to Yamato or stay here. Seeing Alcor knows much, Ronaldo wants him to spill everything. However his demon Bifrons tells him not to interfere. Bifrons unleashes his firepower at Airi when she mocks his stature but obeys Alcor to back down. Hibiki wonders if Alcor is a demon. He himself is not sure and just knows himself as the Anguished One. Nothing more, nothing less. At the very least, he doesn’t want to be his enemy. Alcor reveals he is the one who gave the summoning app to them. Because humans are weak against Septentriones’ onslaught, he made Nicaea site to give them the tools and choice to fight for their life. Thanks to that, he is able to find a new Shining One. Yamato says that based on the prophecy, there will be 3 simultaneous Septentriones attack tomorrow. Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. Only Byakko class demons can fight them. Yamato wants Hibiki to protect Osaka and brushes off his whatever ideals because the goal is to defeat Septentriones. Hibiki will do that to while protecting others. But if he tries to take them down a misguided path, he’ll stop him at that time. If her survives it all. Yamato looks forward to it. Yamato then forces Ronaldo to defend Nagoya since his actions has brought this branch to this crippled state. He has no say in this matter and will do so. Ronaldo is confident he will take down the Septentriones and Yamato reiterates to say that again to him if he survives. Airi and Jungo introduce themselves to Hibiki. Yamato thinks back 3 years ago before he parted ways with Alcor. He is going to create his beautiful ideal world via power because might is right. He believes he was born for this reason to bear humanity’s fate. Alcor wonders if he can survive till the final day since the Purge of Polaris shows no mercy. Of course Yamato is confident he can so Alcor could only wished he was the Shining One.

Fumi tests the teleport transport and it is working fine. Also, everyone in JP’s undergoes a physical check up. At this time? Is there any point in this if humanity is wiped out? Maybe it’s to see who is fit or not for the final fight. While we have Hibiki and Daichi bond their friendship, Nitta learns more about Otome. She was just an ordinary nurse when she was scouted by JP’s because of her summoning capability. I guess she joined them because the pay was better and this ensures her daughter’s safety. We’d never guess this pretty young nurse to have a daughter, don’t we? Nitta flusters when Otome teases her about someone she likes. Guess who? On the other hand, Joe teases Daichi that he likes Nitta. Hey, wait a minute. Septentriones trinity are going to show up and they have time to fool around like this? Furthermore, Joe tries to go peep on the girls and calls it ‘research for the sake of science’. Daichi and Hibiki try to stop him but when the door opens, Nitta is before them. She mistakes them to be perverts. Well, I see she can defeat this kind of ‘demons’. Oh, Joe ran away… When did he? Later Airi confronts the trio and wants a piece of them too because she thought they peeped on her (she was behind Nitta). Yamato is back at the Chiyoda Ward National Diet building. While the other officials are feasting on their breakfast, they hope Yamato won’t pull something off like leaving Tokyo again and remind him about his duty to protect duty so nothing will happen to them. Otherwise they would set a bad example to their constituents. I think they are now. Makoto beings the operation to fight Septentriones. She transports Hibiki, Daichi and Nitta to Osaka where they’ll be stationed. They are reunited with Hinako and Hibiki is emotionally glad she’s alive. I didn’t think the producers killed her character off. Yamato himself is going to defend Tokyo. More than enough, says he? Meanwhile Fumi has found a sacrifice for Lugh: Nitta.

Episode 8
The fourth Septentriones, Megrez is approaching. Hibiki and co are waiting in line and Hibiki thinks Daichi should take this chance to escape. His demons are the weakest, right? Of course he won’t run since he feels he is a chosen Summoner too. Hibiki remembers before he left Nagoya, Ronaldo gave him a pendrive of all the info he dug up on Yamato and the Hotsuin family. He hopes he won’t make the wrong decision. When the battle starts, everyone is having a hard time because not only Megrez’s skin is thick, it can regenerate too. Oh, its spikes can duplicate itself to a mini Megrez. Except maybe for Yamato. He’s too powerful to be stopped. As mentioned, unless all 3 Septentriones are taken out simultaneously, it will keep regenerating. Yamato will match his pace to the rest for the simultaneous attack. Hibiki receives a death clip of Ronaldo, Joe and Otome. He calls to warn him but Ronaldo isn’t going to run. As Hibiki has proved, he can change his death fate and they are confident they can with theirs. The Osaka and Nagoya team aren’t making any headway. Megrez is not slowing down. Airi gets upset how Septentriones have ruined the memories of this place and the innocent people who died. She downloaded a very strong demon app, Lorelei. It pierces Megrez with its giant ice. Meanwhile, Hinako’s Berserker punches a hole through Megrez. With all Megrez’ core exposed, the simultaneous attack to destroy it begins. Megrez is completely destroyed but everybody’s joy is short-lived. Because back at Nagoya’s side when Megrez disappears, the spikes shoot out like arrows. Ronaldo, Joe and Otome perished, leaving only Airi and Jungo as the only Nagoya survivors. Airi is visibly emotionally upset, Nitta thinks she can’t take this anymore and Hibiki tries to come to terms with reality. This is what they have chose, just like him. Yamato and Fumi are at some underground cave where Brionac, the enchanted spear kept by the Hotsuin family for generation sits.

Hibiki wants to wake up from this nightmare when Alcor sits by him to talk. Well, this is reality. Hibiki wants to know if demons find it amusing to toy with humans but Alcor says he has the wrong idea. Alcor is not a human and although he has the power to make death clips, he cannot help humanity for this is their trial. Unless humanity proves itself, they will achieve nothing. Who has the right to judge humans? Polaris, the Almighty Administrator of Order. Polaris concluded mankind’s existence hinders the natural order of the world. Humans lost the will to persevere but yet prosper. This contradicts the world order that what Polaris views. Some might call it God but all it does is just protecting the world order. Hibiki doesn’t think it’s an excuse to destroy things. Alcor agrees with him. Alcor reveals he is Polaris’ sword and tool. He is a Septentriones and such creatures are tools for maintaining order as Polaris sees fit. However Alcor has awareness and even feels grieve for this. As Polaris’ tool, he shouldn’t have so but it something like this could happen, it may mean Polaris isn’t as omnipotent after all. That’s why he gave human summoning apps as a choice to fight. If they want to survive, they need a chance to show Polaris their will. As a tool, he cannot act against Polaris directly. Hibiki is confused but Alcor is too. He ponders his own existence and conscience. If this would cause so much conflict, he shouldn’t even have it. Across the horizon, they see darkness. But Alcor points out it is the void. Everything will be reduced to nothing. Nothing. Everything on human existence, history or civilization will cease to exist. Disappear. Erased. Like as though human never existed in the first place. The void is encroaching fast. After 7 days of judgment were promised and when humanity has overcome all trials, then it can stand before Polaris for arbitration. Alcor feels sad that the world of humans whom he has watched and raised for so long will disappear. He doesn’t want to lose it. It makes Hibiki wonder even if he defeats the enemy, after losing so much, what will be left if the world if they do survive? Of course Yamato thinks this world cannot be saved.

Episode 9
Hibiki is surprised Alcor is in his room. Where else could he go? Time for discussion. How well does Alcor know Yamato? They were once friends. He had many abilities and choices. Alcor thought he would be more responsible but he turned his back on them and made a quick choice: To oversee talented human in a meritocracy. Alcor doesn’t intend to agree or disagree with human choices but Yamato is being stubborn and denying thought through possibility control. He also notes Hibiki was born with power. Whether he wants it or not is irrelevant. That is what talent is about. As long as you can think, you have a choice. Alcor reiterates he is a tool of Polaris with emotion and thus he cannot really help them or go against Polaris directly. Hibiki allows him to stay as long as he does not stand in their way. It makes Alcor happy. Another condition is that nobody should find out about this. However Daichi and Nitta just walk in. They panic to see this dude but calm down after Hibiki tries his best to explain the situation. I guess it is because Hibiki is saying it, they believe him. And I’m not sure if Alcor is really a retard because he is acting and sounding like one when Hibiki is doing the explaining. Are Septentriones like this or is he just doing it on purpose? Airi and Hinako are being called by Makoto. The next Septentriones will manifest soon and based on that physical check up yesterday, both are suited to fight the next one, Alioth. Because it will be manifesting from the sky! They need a long range Summoner who can do that. Alioth is here and is right above Sapporo. Hinako summons the demon Shiva because of her family dance tradition thingy while Airi summons demon Kama because it is said it likes young girls… Alioth is about to fire down so Shiva and Kama fire a powerful shot that destroy its core. Hmm… That easy? Although the Septentriones is defeated, its shell is falling. That is the catch. JP’s makes haste to evacuate the area. Impossible. The shell is around 50km wide! Although JP’s successfully evacuate their own men, many of the citizens of Sapporo perished. Do you want to see what a flat city is like? The void continues to expand as Alcor wonders if humans can survive. Or will no one.

Hibiki goes through Ronaldo’s secret data and learns the Hotsuin family has known this for centuries. Together with the policymakers, they hid this to attain power. Yamato wants to survive this so as to create a new world that follows a ‘national refinement curriculum’ of government design. He lives and everyone dies. Hibiki has to shoulder all that and survive. Yamato and the rest are having some sort of ‘feast’ to celebrate Alioth’s defeat. But they are in no mood to eat especially Airi as she saw Sapporo flattened before her eyes. Yamato wonders if she can handle the burden. If not, she will die next. Of course he himself can and never thought of it as a burden. Hibiki exchanges argument with him. Not everyone is a robot like him. They have feelings. Not everyone is strong. In that case, the weak should accept their weakness and obey the strong. Even if that leads to a world without kindness, define kindness. If kindness is being complacent and licking other’s wounds, then those incompetent trash shall rot the world. Jungo wants to know why Yamato assembled them here. In 2 days, the invasion will end and he wants them to decide. No, it’s not about going home. After the last Septentriones has been defeated, surviving humans can meet Polaris. Defeating Polaris might not be a good idea because as one who observes the world, it will plunge the world into chaos. Hibiki explains it from here. He knows JP’s wants to meet Polaris and reshape laws that govern the world and carve their own new world order that suits them. Yamato denies he is carrying out his family’s will. Till this day, he has lived by his own will. Because trash will not be allowed to stop Polaris. He will rewrite the laws of the world and govern it. In 2 days, those who won’t obey him may die. So take this time to think carefully of your decision. Hibiki still opposes his ideal. It may be right but it’s too strict. People won’t be happy. Yamato doesn’t need him to understand. He will do what he wants. Those who oppose are not necessary. Enemy or not, he will make others submit. Hibiki notes shouldering and accepting are different concepts so Yamato wants him to stay by his side till the end so if his existence is a sin, he wants him to pass judgment. Nitta is crying alone. She doesn’t want a new world order. She just wants to go home. Makoto then comes in and tells her tomorrow’s mission has been decided. She will die for them.

Episode 10
Nitta’s body is compatible to be possessed by Lugh, which is their key in defeating tomorrow’s Septentriones, Mizar. Although assured others won’t die if she sacrifices herself, Nitta still can’t help break down knowing that she’ll die. Morning comes and Alcor makes a lovely breakfast for the trio. Really. This is a Septentriones? Later Alcor visits Yamato. He laments because Hibiki is different than him and won’t overcome the death of a friend easily. Yamato suggests to throw away all emotions and with that you don’t have to feel anguish. Mizar will soon be materializing in Tokyo. The Summoners are in the control room and Hibiki knows something is amiss since Nitta is not with them. On the screen, they see Nitta being chained to a rock as Fumi makes the final preparations to their plan. What plan? They’ve never been told that. Mizar is a replicating Septentriones. It will do so forever so attacking it forever won’t be wise because even Byakko and Cerberus will eventually run out of power. Of course the kids aren’t happy to learn she has become the sacrifice. You think Yamato cares? Now they think they can attack it forever, eh? They want to think of another way but while they do that, Mizar would have replicated itself all over the world. There is no time. To their horror, they receive a death clip of Nitta. Once preparations are completed, Nitta is possessed by the demon Lugh. It releases the power of Ryumyaku. It manifests into its physical form of a dragon called Shakko. This trump card will devour Mizar and send it to another world. The mission is a success but Nitta’s mind has completely collapsed. When Hibiki goes to get her on his Byakko, she attacks him. She is totally possessed by Lugh so Yamato wants him to kill her. That is not Nitta anymore. That is a demon.

Lugh is pissed that the Hotsuin family imprisoned a God and used her as a tool. She is going to destroy t